In the recent past much has been said in the media about the Central Bank, the need to maintain high standards by professionals and the corruption prevalent in the system including the judiciary. This made me think about the great values displayed by both Justice Tudor De Alwis and his wife, Celine De Alwis (nee Perera) Attorney-at-Law.
After retiring from the judiciary Justice De Alwis was appointed as the Legal Consultant of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and held that position for over six years. It is there that I worked with him closely and got to know him well, even though I had heard of his judicial prowess prior to that.
The conduct of Justice De Alwis and his wife was so exemplary and rare that I feel it is imperative to be placed on record. At the very onset of his illustrious judicial career, he made a difficult, but important decision together with Celine. Upon Justice De Alwis accepting his first judicial appointment as a Magistrate, they made the decision that Celine, who was in the process of building up a very solid practice having been in the profession for about 6 years, gave up her law career. This is because he did not think it was proper for her to continue in practice or be employed by any legal institution while he held judicial office. It has displayed the calibre and the character of this couple and is a glowing example to the present day judicial officers.
This year marks the 91st birth anniversary of Justice De Alwis who passed away sixteen years ago. He is considered as one of the most independent and highly competent judges to adorn the higher echelons of the judiciary of Sri Lanka. Not only was he independent in his judgements and application of the law, his conduct made all the parties appearing before him feel satisfied that justice had been done. He had the ideal temperament for a judge and conducted himself with dignity and decorum bringing respect to himself and the august institution he represented.
During my tenure of work under De Alwis I observed that he could not be influenced to do any incorrect thing. He did not tolerate even a whiff of political interference and treated any such attempts with the contempt it deserved. He led a simple and contended life surrounded by a very close-knit family.
ustice De Alwis who passed away sixteen years ago. He is considered as one of the most independent and highly competent judges to adorn the higher echelons of the judiciary of Sri Lanka. Not only was he independent in his judgements and application of the law
De Alwis who was born in Yatiyana, Agalawatte to an upper middle-class family. He was the 3rd of eight children. He had most of his education at St. John’s College Panadura under the principalship of Cyril Jansz. He had been a brilliant student excelling in most subjects and was always at the top of his class. He had entered the University of Ceylon and came under the tutelage of the famous Sir Ivor Jennings. He read Classics, History and Mathematics and graduated with consummate ease. Thereafter he entered Law College and graduated as an Advocate of the Supreme Court after which he set up his practice in Kalutara. Despite the propensity to earn lots of money, he answered the higher call of entering the judiciary which was considered a very prestigious honour at that time. The example he set as a judge in every respect was a very high bar indeed for others to emulate.
Justice De Alwis was a wonderful family man and was adored by his wife, children and grandchildren. He was devastated at the irreparable loss of his dearly beloved daughter Shanez in the prime of her life. De Alwis would be a very happy man if he was alive today to see his wife, son and grandchildren all being very successful in their respective fields. Mrs. De Alwis after sacrificing her legal career embarked to work as a teacher in speech and drama. Their son, Visvajit, is very well recognised and respected in the global tea industry having held senior appointments around the world. His granddaughter Danushka studied Law at University of Exeter in the UK and is based there working for one of the largest Conference producing companies as a senior Legal Conference Producer. Grandson Vimuktha is a versatile sportsman and represented Sri Lanka at Davis Cup Tennis.
Justice De Alwis was a true son of the soil who loved our country in a genuine manner and spent his entire tenure as a judge to uphold all the noble values associated with that sacred institution. Unfortunately, over a period, many aspects of life in our beloved country have deteriorated and I often contemplate as to what holds for the future of our country? These thoughts linger in my mind as I fondly remember and honour the memory of Justice De Alwis who was a gentleman par excellence.
(Attorney – at Law)
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