Romesh De Silva

From TobaccoUnmasked


Romesh De Silva was a “President’s Counsel Learned in Law”, commonly known as President’s Counsel (PC). It is a high-rank appointment for Attorneys-at-Law in Sri Lanka coinciding the British ‘Queen’s Counsel’ appointments. PC appointments are made by the President of Sri Lanka based on professional eminence and conduct.[1][2]

Image 1: Romesh De Silva obtaining his appointment as the Chairman of the Law Commission from the President Maithripala Sirisena in the presence of Minister of Justice, Wijedasa Rajapaksha[1]

De Silva serves as the Chairman of The Law Commission of Sri Lanka since March 2015. Law Commission is the state authority to review and reform the country’s laws and the legal education system.[1][3]

De Silva also served as the Chairman of the Sri Lanka National Arbitration Centre (SLNAC) and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL).[4] According to some media reports, government offered the Sri Lankan High Commissioner post to the United Kingdom to De Silva in May 2015, which he declined due to personal reasons.[5][6]

De Silva was involved in many nationally relevant court cases referred to as ‘controversial’ by the media.

  • In 2006, defended The Sunday Leader News Paper and its Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge (who was murdered in 2009), in a petition filed by the Defence Secretary (Gotabhaya Rajapaksha) against a series of news articles on an alleged fraudulent aircraft purchasing deal.[7]
  • In 2013, represented Shirani Bandaranayke in legal actions against her impeachment from the post of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.[8]
  • In 2015, represented Gotabhaya Rajapaksha, the Former Secretary of Defence, in his Fundamental Rights petition to the Supreme Courts against the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID).[9][10]
  • In 2016, represented a graduate of South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM), in her petition against the SAITM, Ministry of Higher Education, University Grants Commission, Ministry of Health and the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) for not being awarded SLMC registration.[11][12][13]
  • In 2017, defended former Central Bank Governor of Sri Lanka Arjun Mahendran in courts in the alleged Central Bank bond scam against Mahendran.[14][15]

Tobacco Related Activities

As of 2017, according to the publically available information, De Silva represented the Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) in three court cases;

Case on Pictorial Health Warnings: CTC Vs. Minister of Health

In 2013, CTC filed a petition on Pictorial Health Warnings in cigarette packs (PHWs) against the then Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena, challenging his authority to Gazette PHWs covering 80% of the cigarette packs.[16][17] He was later replaced by Faisz Musthapha.[18][19] For more details see Ceylon Tobacco Legally Challenging Pictorial Health Warnings in Cigarette Packs

Case on Smoking related Death: P. Lalitha Padmini Fernando Vs. CTC

In 2003, a widow of a smoker who died due to lung cancer took legal action against CTC. Romesh De Silva defended the CTC in this case.[20] For more details see Ceylon Tobacco Sued for a Smoker’s Death

Case on Forged Cheques: Commercial Bank Vs. CTC

In 2008, De Silva represented CTC in a case against Commercial Bank on an issue on forged cheques.[21]

Tobacco Unmasked Resources

Other relevant TobaccoUnmasked entries:

The local language translations



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 OMLANKA: Sri Lanka News Website. Veteran lawyer Romesh Chairman of Law Commission, 26 March 2015, accessed May 2017
  2. The Nation. Appointment of President’s Counsel, 28 March 2015, accessed May 2017
  3. The Law Commission of Sri Lanka. The Commission, 2017, accessed May 2017
  4. Sri Lanka National Arbitration Centre. Board of Governors, 2017, accessed May 2017
  5. Lanka News Web. Lawyer Romesh De Silva has been appointed as the SL High commissioner to the UK, 22 May 2015, accessed May 2017
  6. Sunday Observer. Behind Closed Doors: Of faith and fear and that carom board extravagance, 31 May 2015, accessed May 2017
  7. L Wickrematunge. Apology To Gotabaya By The Sunday Leader, Colombo Telegraph, 8 March 2015, accessed May 2017
  8. Colombo Telegraph. Romesh de Silva, Jayampathi Wickramaratne, MA Sumanthiran And JC Weliamuna Receive Threatening Letters, 18 January 2013, accessed May 2017
  9. Asian Tribune. Supreme Court today issued an interim order staying the arrest of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 14 May 2015, accessed May 2017
  10. Ada Lakderana. Judge refuses to hear Gota’s petition, 13 May 2015, accessed May 2017
  11. SS Selvanayagam. Court of Appeal to hear petition of SAITM students on 12 October, Daily FT, 7 July 2016, accessed May 2017
  12. D Manu. Rajapaksa regime’s SAITM sin puts joint opposition in a spin, The Sunday Times: Columns, 12 February 2017, accessed May 2017
  13. W Ramanayake. SLMC non-registration of SAITM grads: Two cases in court, The Sunday Times, 10 July 2016, accessed May 2017
  14. The Island. Romesh de Silva, PC leads Mahendran’s team of lawyers: Bond scam probe, 15 March 2017, accessed May 2017
  15. M Gunasekara, R Katugampola. Gov. Mahendran gave arbitrary instructions to raise interest rate while auction was on, says witness, Sunday Times (Sri Lanka), 26 March 2017, accessed May 2017
  16. Court of Appeal Document. IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA, 22 February 2013, accessed May 2017
  17. The Sunday Times. SC gives CTC time to implement health warnings on cigarette packs, 03 March 2013, accessed May 2017
  18. Lanka News Web. Chief Justice to shows Ceylon Tobacco how to win an appeal, Exclusive, 06 August 2013, accessed May 2017
  19. DailyMirror (Sri Lanka). Pictorial warnings to cover 50-60% of cigarette packs, 13 May 2014, accessed May 2017
  20. S Samarasinghe. Tobacco faces smoking death case, 02 November 2008, accessed May 2017
  21. Sri Lanka Law Reports. 2010(2) SRI L.R. p62-64, 21 July 2008, accessed May 2017