Victor Tennekoon

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Deshamanya Justice
Victor Tennekoon
35th Chief Justice of Sri Lanka
In office
1 January 1974 – 8 September 1977
Appointed by William Gopallawa
Preceded by Gardiye Punchihewage Amaraseela Silva
Succeeded by Neville Samarakoon
Judge of the Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka
In office
2 August 1973 – 31 December 1973
Appointed by William Gopallawa
33rd Attorney General of Sri Lanka
In office
1 July 1970 – 1975
Appointed by Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Preceded by Abdul Caffoor Mohamad Ameer
Succeeded by Shiva Pasupati
112th Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka
In office
8 February 1967 – 1 July 1970
Appointed by Dudley Senanayake
23rd Solicitor General of Ceylon
In office
Appointed by Dudley Senanayake
Preceded by Anthony Alles
Succeeded by Walter Jayawardena
Personal details
Born (1914-09-09)9 September 1914
Rambukkana, Central Province, British Ceylon
Died April 1990
Spouse(s) Semitha Tennekoon, née Wijewardene
Children Asita, Dayanthi and Priyani
Alma mater University of London
Ceylon Law College

Deshamanya Justice Victor Tennekoon QC (9 September 1914 – April 1990) was a leading Sri Lankan academic, judge and jurist. He served as the 35th Chief Justice of Sri Lanka as well as the 33rd Attorney General and 23rd Solicitor General.[1][2] He was appointed Chief Justice in 1974 and was succeeded by Neville Samarakoon.[3] From 1979 to 1984 Tennekoon served as Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya.

Early life, education and family[edit]

Tennekoon was born to a distinguished family on 9 September 1914 in Central Province, British Ceylon. He had four brothers Herbert, who became the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Reginold (MP Minipe 1950s), George, a Professor of Pathology at Peradeniya University and Kenneth an engineer who emigrated to the UK in 1956 and one sister Dulcie (Wijenaike). He attended St. Anthony's College in Kandy. Tennekoon obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of London and subsequently entered the Ceylon Law College. He was called to the Bar on 4 May 1943.[1] Tennekoon was married to Semitha. They had son Asita & two daughters Dayanthi and Priyani.[4]

Legal career[edit]

Tennekoon was the first Kandyan on the Bench. Practising for some time at the Kegalle Bar, on 1 October 1946 he joined the Attorney-General's Department as a Temporary additional Crown Counsel. He specialized in Civil work, however did prosecute in some important cases including the case of the 1962 coup d'état attempt.[5]

In 1965 he was appointed Solicitor General of Sri Lanka and was conferred with the title of Queen's Counsel.[6] In 1972 he was appointed Attorney General, after which he served as a Judge of the Court of Appeal, rising to be Chief Justice in 1974.

Other work[edit]

After his legal career Tennekoon work in many other academic and legal capacities. From 14 March 1949 to 5 March 1951 he served as Secretary to the Kandyan Peasantry Commission. He worked as an advisor to the Government on aspects of international law relating to the nationality problems of Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka in collaboration with Sir Humphrey Waldock. He was also Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Development Councils from 1970 to 1980.Tennekoon also served as Chairman of a number of organisations such as the Law Commission, the Salaries Review Committee, L. B. Finance Company, the Central Hospitals Ltd, and Deputy Chairman of the Commercial Bank of Ceylon. In 1984 he chaired the Ministry of Justice Law's Delays seminar and the Committee on the Courts of Appeal.[1]

Tennekoon served as Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya from 1979 to 1984, he was conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) honoris cause by the university.[5] He was conferred the national honour of the title of Deshamanya in the first ever Independence Day National Honours list in 1986.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Maniccavasagar, Chelvatamby. "Maintained independence and dignity of judiciary". Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "PERMANENT HOLDERS OF THE OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL". Attorney General's Department - Sri Lanka. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Overview". Judicial Service Commission Secretariat. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "WIJEWARDENA - Family #3062". Rootsweb. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  5. ^ a b WIJERATNE, S. S. "Eminent Judges of Sri Lanka". Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Perera, KKS. "The 'Bathroom Coup' of 1966 - Final part". The Nation. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "National Awards". Presidential Secretariat - Sri Lanka. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Gardiye Punchihewage Amaraseela Silva
Chief Justice of Sri Lanka
Succeeded by
Neville Samarakoon
Preceded by
Judge of the Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Abdul Caffoor Mohamad Ameer
Attorney General of Sri Lanka
Succeeded by
Shiva Pasupati
Preceded by
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Anthony Alles
Solicitor General of Ceylon
Succeeded by
Walter Jayawardena