An elite judge and a great personality Deshamanya Justice P. Ramanathan

2017-12-07 00:00:10

It has been eleven years since the passing away of Justice P. Ramanathan who was well known to me. I recall meeting him for the first time in Kandy at the BASL second Convocation as fellow delegates. Meeting this handsome personality who had a charming smile became friends thereafter forever. Even though he was not involved in politics he had a clear view of the political situation in the country and he used to always discuss matters of political interest from which I benefitted. His political forecast was always accurate.   

Justice Ramanathan was educated at St Joseph’s College, Colombo 10 and was a Barrister-at-Law and a Bencher of the Gray’s Inn. He was such a simple person and ready to help so much so that when I requested for a letter of introduction for a young graduate to join Lincoln’s Inn, he never hesitated and readily complied with my request as the father of the young lady was also known to him.  

He served at the Attorney General’s Department and in 1978, mounted the Bench and became a Judge of the High Court and ascended to the Court of Appeal and thereafter to the Supreme Court. As a Judge he performed his duties without any favour and thus we never heard any criticism of his judicial work.  

He was a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. After his retirement from the Supreme Court he was appointed Governor of the Western Province and thereafter Chancellor of the Uva Wellassa University. In recognition of his dedicated services to the nation, he was honoured with the title “Deshamanya” the highest National Award of Sri Lanka.  

A past President of the Medico-Legal Association and British Scholars Association, and he also served as the President of the Rotary Club of Colombo Central in 1985/1986 during which period he rendered yeoman service to the community through Rotary, for which Rotary International gave him due recognition.  

He was a descendant of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan and the son of S. Pathmanathan who was a respected director of many private and public quoted companies.  

Being a devout Hindu, Justice Ramanathan was also appointed a Trustee of the Sri Ponnambala Vaneswara Temple in Colombo.  

After his marriage, I was delighted to meet his wife Mano, an Attorney-at-Law herself, who arose to be the Senior Deputy Legal Draftsman in the Ministry of Justice, Sri Lanka, and she is the daughter of S. Saravanamuttu, an illustrious advocate of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

When I was persuaded by Mano to be the President of the Board of Management of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya of which she was a distinguished past pupil, Justice Ramanathan being a simple person came all the way to the Lionel Wendt Theatre, where I was at that point of time to have my signature on the nomination form, as the filled-in form was urgently required, ensuring that I will not say no, and of course had his way.  

Having cherished and enjoyed his varied interests to the maximum, he lived a life that was full, regrets were too few to mention, but nevertheless faced it all, stood tall and of course had his way. 

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