By Siva Sivapragasam
Justice Sripavan, the senior most Supreme Court Judge, has been appointed as the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka by President Maithripala Sirisena.
Justice Kanakasabapathi Sripavan will be the second Tamil to be Chief Justice when he takes over following the retirement of Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. The first Tamil to hold the highest judicial post in Sri Lanka was Suppiah Sharvananda, who served between 1984 and 1988.
Born in 1952, Justice Sripavan was educated at the Jaffna Hindu College and later at the Law College in Colombo. After a short stint at the private bar in the late 1970s, he joined the Attorney General‘s Office as a government counsel. He rose to be Deputy Solicitor General before he was appointed a judge in the Court of Appeal. He has also served as acting Chief Justice.
Justice Sripavan joined Ceylon Law College in 1974 and passed out as an Attorney-At-Law in 1976, obtaining a first class in the Intermediate Examination. After qualifying, Justice Sripavan practised law at the unofficial Bar of Sri Lanka between 1977 and 1978. He then joined the Attorney-General’s Department as an acting State Counsel. He became a permanent State Counsel in 1979. He was promoted as Senior State Counsel in 1989. Justice Sripavan was appointed Deputy Solicitor General in February 1996. He continued his legal studies whilst working, obtaining a diploma in Industrial Law from the University of Ceylon in 1992 and Master of Laws from the University of London.
Justice Sripavan was appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal in May 2002 and became president of the Court of Appeal in 2007. [He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2008, replacing retiring Justice Nihal Jayasinghe.
Justice Sripavan becomes Sri Lanka’s 44th Chief Justice and succeeds Justice Shirani Bandaranayake who retired from the post of Chief Justice.
Chief Justice Sripavan took his oaths before President Maithripala Sirisena while President Sirisena was sworn in as President only few days ago before Justice Sripavan.
The appointment of Justice Sripavan as the Chief Justice signals a new chapter in Sri Lanka’s recent history that the country is once again becoming a level playing field for all communities.