First woman Attorney General of Sri Lanka takes oaths

by Dulan Hettiarachchi

(August 31, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Shanthi Eva Wanasundera, PC will be sworn in as 26th Attorney General of Sri Lanka before Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha, the President of Sri Lanka cementing a remarkable milestone in the history of the Judiciary of Sri Lanka becoming the first woman Attorney General of Sri Lanka.

She will be succeeding his predecessor Mr. Mohan Peiris -PC.

Mrs. Shanthi Eva Wanasundera was born in Kurunegala during the period her father Mr Hector Jayasena , a reputed teacher who comes from Down South was posted to a school in Kurunegala district. Mr Jayasena rose to the enviable heights of his determined ambition of becoming an attorney-at-law by his untiring efforts in later years. It is inspiring to learn the story of his incredible achievement. True to form, it was the daily routine of Mr Jayasena to escort his daughter Miss Eva Jayasena to the college, a student of the law college for the sake of her safety. He observed the phenomenal engagement of the law students in their studies at the time of his visit to the law College every day. This encouraged him to pursue knowledge and professional articulation in the study of law accredited with the great success of becoming an Attorney-at-Law. Mrs Sumana Jayasena, a house wife and the mother made a dedicated effort guiding with prudence for her daughter Shanthia Eva to rise to the loftiest echelons of legal profession.

Eva’s brilliance in studies was highly impressive from the salad days of her career in school. Beginning her primary education at St. Thomas Girl’s College in Matara, she was compelled to change schools on account of her father’s transferrable profession of teaching. She was fortunate to win a scholarship to study in USA while she was at Dharmapala, College, Pannipitiya. Ending her studies in Sri Lanka she left to USA to further her higher studies under the scholarship at Canyon del Oro High School Tucson, Arizona, USA.

On completion of her studies under the scholarship in USA she returned to Sri Lanka and entered Law College in early 1970s. Her intellectual aptitude stimulated with masterly performance of candescent success influenced her to achieve her ambitious goal of becoming an Attorney-at-Law. She debuted as an Attorney-at-Law at the Gangodawila Magistrate Court followed by the District Courts in Mt.Lavinia and Colombo. It was significantly a special feature to note that all relative legal matters under her purview were handled by herself.

She joined the Attorney General’s Department in 1979 as a State Counselor. Subsequently she served as the Senior State Counselor, Deputy Solicitor General, Additional Solicitor General and Solicitor General. It is a spectacular scenario of ascendance to higher rank as the first woman Senior State Counselor, first woman Deputy Solicitor General, first woman Additional Solicitor General and the first woman Solicitor General of Sri Lanka in her resplendent career of this noble legal profession.

Eva Wanasundera served as the Acting Attorney General 16 times.

She is also master degree holder of Law of the University of Leicester United Kingdom. She mastered trade law for her LLM degree. Being a professional and senior official of Attorney General Office, she represented Sri Lanka in key conferences overseas keeping Sri Lanka flag high.

She is married to Mr. Indrajith Wanasundera, a well renowned businessman in Ratnapura. Their son Subodha lives in Australia with his wife Chandani and daughter Medanee is in USA for higher studies.

( The writer, Media Consultant, Ministry of Justice.)

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