Sirimegha Wijeratne LLM. Patron of the Colombo Branch . President of the Colombo Lawyers Association. Head of Legal Aid, Sri Lanka expired on 25th June and was cremated on the 27th Turseday, at Kanatta Crematorium. He was Secretary General of I.C.L.P.Arbitration Centre , a Member of the Council of Management, Institute for the Development of Commercial Law and practice.
S.S. Wijeratne entered Dharmaraja in the year 1954. He came from St. Bernadette’s College, Polgahawela. Soon he established himself as a bright student and got actively involved in literary activities. He later became the leader of the Sinhala Debating team and developed himself to be a devastating speaker. Students of his time turned up in their numbers to listen to his debating skills, especially with the girls’ schools. His team members were Laksman Abeywardhana, one time patron of the Colombo Branch, Gamini Gunawardane, one time President of the Colombo Branch and in later years, Daya Tennakoon, prolific TV and cinema actor in later life. He was also a member of the English Debating Team, which was led by Gamini Gunawardane, later Snr. DIG, Laksman Abeywardhana who became a Planter and late Jinesi Aponso. Sirimagha was also a founder member of the HSC Forum and played a leading role in producing its publication titled ‘Mahaveli’. His other classmates were late Col. K.B.S. Welagedera and A. B. Damunupola, later, Principal of Dharmaraja and Ananda. Sirimegha was made a school Prefect
He entered the Peradeniya University in 1959 where he won the gold medal for the Best Orator. He also associated himself with Gamini Gunawardane and a few others in publishing of a quarterly short story magazine named ‘Prathibha’ in the University. He became the leader of the University Sinhala Debating team. He associated himself with the student movement then, as a Marxist.
On leaving the University, Sirimegha entered the Law College where he secured a First Class pass and became a visiting lecturer at the Ceylon Law College whilst earning a reputation as a specialist in Rent Law. Among his contemporaries at the Law College was Mr. Sarath N. Silva, former Chief Justice.
After his marriage to Rukmani Herath-gunaratne, Sirimegha entered the UN System and was placed at the UN HQ. Geneva where most of his career was spent. There, he became a UN Head Of Refugees’ Affairs and was posted in Afghanistan, Pakistan and later in the Philippines. On retirement from the UN, he returned to Sri Lanka and engaged himself in several charitable projects such as Geriatric welfare etc. He was appointed a Member of the first Constitutional Council of Sri Lanka established under the now defunct 17th Amendment. Thereafter , he engaged himself in the Free Legal Aid Programme aimed at assisting the poor in litigation. He took a keen interest in the college Auditorium project and in providing the screen for the Auditorium which was undertaken by the Colombo Branch. He was felicitated by the Colombo Branch at an Annual dinner recognizing him as a distinguished Old Boy.
He was in fact, a pioneer when the Colombo Branch was first revived in 1976 . With his UN appointment we missed his services . After he returned to the Island, he was actively involved with the O.B.U activities till he took over the Legal Aid Commission and other related assignments. Yet he never missed participating at our A.G.M. or the Annual Dinner if he was in Sri Lanka , and he never failed at any call for financial contributions.
Sirimegha leaves behind his wife, Rukmani, a son and a daughter who live abroad.
May his sojourn in the Samsara be short.