ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 13

He always saw that justice was done in the true sense of the word

Daya Udalagama

Death, that is inevitable and so common.
Visit me too as you must! but not before,
I accomplish what I am born for.
So that there is no sense of loss and tragedy
and most of all that there would be very little sorrow.

Two years ago on a sunny day in August, the Kegalle Courts complex was in session as usual. Around 11 a.m. a case was called at District Court 11 and Mr. Udalagama was rushing into the court room from another to appear for his client. As he stood up it became evident that he was in some discomfort. He collapsed.

The courts practically suspended proceedings for a moment but pin drop silence prevailed. Everybody present including the Judge was concerned about the health of the most eminent lawyer in Kegalle and a Doctor in the crowd started giving artificial respiration.

An unconscious Daya Udalagama was rushed to the intensive care unit and he breathed his last that night due to cardiac arrest. To say that the death of Daya Udalagama signified the end of an era of suave and illustrious lawyers in Kegalle, would not be an exaggeration altogether.

At 63, he was neither young nor old enough to die. It is not that he had unfulfilled personal obligations with his three children well set in life, two following in his own footsteps, and his wife well provided for.

It is just that his death deprived the Kegalle Bar in particular and the legal fraternity at large of an accomplished and versatile lawyer creating a void that is not easy to fill. Daya was a rich man in every sense of the word and with his demise his family, colleagues, associates and society at large lost a rich source of acumen, intellectualism and above all, a pervading influence.

Daya indeed was like a library with his acumen, intellect and talents. He may not have been the best briefed lawyer on a given day in the court house but yet he had the talent to tear the minute preparations of his detractors to shreds by focusing attention on the larger perspective of the issue involved. His success rate in cases was phenomenal but despite such an enviable record he was always ready to give an ear to a worthy cause and see that justice was done in the true sense of the word.

The lengths he went to, to liberate the Kegalle YMBA premises from the legal and social tangle it had got into could be cited as a recent example of his benevolence. Thanks to him today the Kegalle YMBA premises is brimming with Buddhist religious activity. Daya hailed from a family of traditional nobility in Kegalle which had made a name for gifting many an illustrious member to the legal profession.

His mother was that ever effervescent and charismatic Anula Udalagama who was bestowed with a ‘Sikhamani’ title in recognition of her indelible contributions to education at local and national level. His father was a leading lawyer in Kegalle in his day. Daya however always stood on his own merit.

The demise of Daya Udalagama is an irreplaceable loss to the legal profession.

By Palitha Senanayake

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.