For as long as we've cautioned, the Sri Lankan imports (especially in the legal fraternity) have been cause for concern.
It is now crystal clear that the legal imports have themselves been under immense pressure by the regime to rule a certain way.
What is even more interesting is that among Sri Lankans, their influx is causing their own citizens to question the how's and why's.
Justice Jayaratne is a bold one, who has the heart of a lion. He is a man who is outspoken and vocal about his achievements. He began his career as a proctor and became a lawyer, judge, scholar, writer and a Provincial Governor of Sri Lanka in 1994. I think the following poem written by Jayaratne will give the reader an idea of the man.
"Blessed is the court
Bathed with justice
Virtually called the Temple of Justice
Where none can
Escape the legal hand
When crossed with the
Law of the land"
He was former High Court Judge of Sri Lanka and also for some time served as Justice of High Court of Fiji. Indeed it would be correct to say that Jayaratne received his baptism of fire in Fiji where he ran great personal danger to himself and his wife. Jayaratne heard a certain case in Fiji, where the Attorney General's department accused 18 Fiji- born Indians of a coup against the government. Consequently Jayaratne's car was wrecked.
"I heard that case. I did not treat it as a very special case. I considered it a normal murder case or treason case or whatever in the High Court. From the evidence there was no proof of treason, far from it. In my opinion, binding law was enough. Apparently the Army was annoyed because they wanted the charge of treason," said Justice Jayaratne.
Jayaratne attended Ahangama Dharmarama College down South and reminisced on his old school days. At that time they used the slate and slate pencil.
They also went barefooted to school because that was the custom and not because they were not rich. In the third standard he was sent to Mahinda College Galle and then from there to St. Peter's College where he did his Senior School Certificate.
"I tried to enroll myself to more prestigious schools like Royal College but they rejected me. No problem, I got a place at St. Peter's and after that joined Law School. Nothing spectacular but generally that", said Jayaratne.
Jayaratne graduated from the University of London with an L.L.B. degree and then joined the Inns of Court, Inner Temple London and passed out as a Barrister and was called to the English Bar in 1969.
"We followed lectures and studied very hard. Finally, you are given four shies. I failed twice. I was also a bit frightened because if you fail the last one you are chucked out but nothing happened like that, but I was in great fear that it could happen to me," added Jayaratne.
Jayaratne who started practising as proctor was keen to point out that he was a lawyer who never practised under a senior. "I never had a senior. I never studied under a senior; I was by myself, right from A-Z. I did very well, I think. As a proctor I appeared in the Supreme Court. When I got re-enrolled as an advocate I appeared in many cases and then became a judge and magistrate," stated Jayaratne Jayaratne commenced research for his Ph.D. degree under the guidance of Professor G.L. Peiris , then Professor of Law at the University of Colombo.
Asked what he recollected about that experience, Jayaratne had this to say: "He was very erudite and knowledgeable. What he imparted rarely escapes your mind. It was very clear and the lectures were to the point. You could easily absorb them and digestion was very easy and uncomplicated," said Jayaratne. Another important occasion in Jayaratne's life was the Sadaam Hussein trial which he attended and was allowed to enter because of his reputation.
"I didn't attend the full trial, it went on for months. I was keen to see the trial going on at the Hague. The trial was not like it is in a court house where you can sit and watch. The judges sit on the bench and you can see the inside of the court. When the sitting commences, a big screen appears and the court is closed. Outside there are two big television sets and you can see everything that happens inside. Sadaam Hussein looked rather annoyed," explained Jayaratne Jayaratne, when asked about his recollections of any particular case or cases, spoke about the Dickwella murder case which was a sensational murder case because the man involved was a businessman.
"A prominent bus owner was involved in that murder. There were a string of lawyers to defend him and it was hotly contested. As it was a shooting case the then judge , Justice Gratien wanted to visit the scene because of the angle of firing" elaborated Jayaratne.
Jayaratne is the author of the book: 'Judicial Review of Commissions of Inquiry' which was published in 1995. In this book, he makes an incisive analysis of Commissions of Inquiry with regard to their utility value, their relations to the rights of the individuals and the extent of their amenability to judicial review. Through his analysis of Commissions of Inquiry in various countries, such as, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and the United States of America, he has demonstrated the enlargement of the frontiers of natural justice.
We also touched on the domestic side of Jayaratne whose wife passed away recently . "Mine was not a love marriage. It was the normal custom-type approach to marriage. But I must say with great pride and respect that she was very helpful to me with guidance. She was actually a very good lady," said Jayaratne.