Death of Justice A

Death of Justice A. C. Alles

The death occurred of Anthony Christopher (A. C.)  Alles, former Judge of the Supreme Court (1964-1974) on January 1 2003 at the age of 91 years. . Alles passed away at Nawaloka hospital after a brief illness and the funeral took place within 24 hours according to his wishes, on January 2.

A. C.  Alles was born at Matale in 1911. After his early education under the Jesuit fathers at St. Aloysius‘ College, Galle (where he passed his Cambridge Senior with Honors) and at the Ceylon University, he joined the Ceylon Law College and, after obtaining First Class Honors in his Law Final, was enrolled as an advocate of the Supreme Court in 1939. He obtained his Degree in Laws of the London University in 1942. In the same year, he joined the Attorney-General’s Department as a Crown Counsel. He was a member of the AG’s Department over two decades and functioned as prosecutor in several important criminal cases for the State.

In 1962, he was appointed solicitor-general and was leading counsel for the State before the Bandaranaike Assassination Commission.

In 1964, he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court. In 1972, while still being a Judge of the Supreme Court, he was appointed a member of the Commission of Inquiry established under the Criminal Justice Commissions Act to inquire into the insurgency of April 1971 and continued to function as commissioner even after his retirement in July 1974. Shortly before his retirement, he acted as chief justice.

He was also a member of the International Commission of Jurists and Pax Romana (the Association of Catholic Jurists) and was President of the Ceylon Branch of the World Peace through Law in 1970.

Since his retirement Alles spent most of his time in writing on criminal cases and is the author of several volumes on the famous criminal cases of Sri Lanka, including the assassination of Prime Minister S. W. R. D.   Bandaranaike. He is also the author of a comprehensive treatise, recently updated, of the JVP in Sri Lanka, in addition to other books of legal interest.


Former Supreme Court judge turned author on non-fiction crime, Anthony
Christopher Alles, passed on peacefully with the dawn of the New Year, 2003.
He was 91+.
Born at Matale on 09.07.1911, Alles served as a member of the
attorney-general's department for over two decades since 1942, functioning
as a powerful prosecutor in some significant criminal cases, and being
appointed as solicitor-general in 1962 and leading counsel for the state
before the Bandaranaike Assassination Commission in 1964. He was appointed
as a judge of the Supreme Court in that year. Alles retired in July 1974,
shortly before which he served as chief justice. Thereafter he served as a
member of the Commission of Inquiry established under the Criminal Justice
Commissions Act to inquire into the insurgency of April, 1971, finishing
that task in Sep-75.
Alles began writing his Famous Criminal Cases of Sri Lanka series on a
manual typewriter from 1975 at age 64. Thereafter it was a case of at least
a book appearing on the stands in every successive year. The acclaimed
14-volume series, dealing with twenty-seven criminal cases in precisely
1,626-pages, recounts some celebrated criminal cases ranging from the year
1906 (The Attygalle Murder Case) to 1998 (The Murder of a Mystery Man:
Charles-Christophe Taschereau).
Murder cases pertaining to Duff House, Pope, Whitehouse, the Ceylon Turf
Club, Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike, Sathasivam, Kularatne, Pauline de
Croos, Thismada, Kalattawa, Adeline Vitharne, Arthur Thenuwara and Mathew
Peiris, and the trials relating to Sepala Ekanayake's skyjack and of
Walisinghe Harischandra, Ranjani taxi-cab and others, were some of the well
known cases which Alles ably recounted.   

In addition to such valuable work, his comprehensive treatise, JVP:
1969-1989; his halcyon travelogue on the splendid East coast beaches of Sri
Lanka (he considered them the best beaches in the world from all what he had
seen in his global travels): A Glimpse of Paradise; his Selected Essays,
fifteen in all, on legal and allied subjects; In the Public Interest, a
bizarre sequel to his opus on the tragic, poignant Chandrasekera Dias
murder; and three other publications on crime: Criminal Cases; Facets of the
Criminal Law and Some Celebrated English & American Criminal Cases, sum up
the complete works of this illustrious historian on non-fiction crime of our

Since his retirement, apart from making some fine holiday tours to various
parts of the globe, Alles used to write on occasion to the newspapers,
continuing to enjoy all those great matches on cricket and football on TV
and relish the company of the various friends who used to drop by to say
hello to him and wife, Doreen, also of the literati, at their Cambridge
Terrace home in Cinnamon Gardens. 

It was decidedly such an elegant and full life so productive and well spent.
Alles epitomized the exemplary life of commitment and contribution for those
who pass the Psalmist span of seventy. I knew him for the last twenty years,
and I found the occasional discourses and interactions with him so very
educative and illuminative.  

Firoze Sameer

A.C. Alles - 'wonderfully humane and perceptive'

Former Acting Chief Justice, Mr. A.C. Alles passed away recently at the age of 91.

I had the good fortune to know him personally for over 30 years, meeting him at the home of his elder daughter Pamela, wife of Mr. Chrisantha Cooray, Chairman of the Hatton National Bank, who are close personal friends.

He was wonderfully humane person, wise' humorous, with a razor-sharp mind. Over the years, I began to talk with him on a myriad of subjects. Apart from his own analytical observations, he had a strong sense of right and wrong, rare quality these days! He had an elegant and a gentle sense of humour. I used to look forward to meeting him at these various social gatherings, purely to talk to him; it was, indeed, a refreshing pleasure.

He lived a full life of great achievement. He was born in Matale in 1911. After his primary education, he joined the Law College, obtaining First Class Honours in his law finals, enrolling as an advocate of the Supreme Court in 1939. In the same year he obtained his degree in laws at the University of London and immediately joined the Attorney-General's Dept. as a Crown Counsel, where he served for 20 years and functioned as a prosecutor in several important criminal cases, the White House murder case, the Wilpattu murder case amongst many other important cases.

In 1962 Mr. Alles was appointed Solicitor-General and was leading Counsel in the Bandaranaike Assassination Commission, ending his legal career serving as Chief Justice for a brief time. In 1964, he was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court, and as a member of the Court of Criminal Appeal, he sat on the Bench which heard the Kalattawa murder and the Kataragama Beauty Queen murder cases causing great interest amongst the public.

Justice Alles was probably the only ex-Supreme Court judge to write a 14 volume series on all the controversial and sensational murder cases in Sri Lanka. I have read them all, and, apart from the legal aspects of each case, he gives an eloquent history of each event, colourful or dismal portrayals of the individuals and his own views of the trial. They were factual, legalistic, interesting and readable.

Another excellent work by him was a very comprehensive treatise, recently updated, on the JVP, and the causes which led to the insurrections of 1971 and 1988.

This fascinated him and held his interest for years and we used to discuss this for hours when we met.

"A Glimpse of Paradise", his selected essays, fifteen in all on a variety of subjects and his three other publications on crime, 'Facets of the Criminal Law' and 'Celebrated British and American cases', sum up the complete works of this remarkable judge turned author. Perhaps the very best works of non-fiction in Sri Lanka. He was probably the only ex-judge who wrote so eloquently on the most sensational criminal cases of our times.

Mr. Alles loved life and lived it to the fullest. Apart from a very illustrious legal career and respected judge, he enjoyed travelling to some of the most exotic parts of the world and was President of the Orient Club for many years. After his retirement from the Bench, he lived quietly and with great dignity. The simplicity of the man is clearly illustrated by the fact that he wanted the simplest possible funeral, a cremation within 24 hours of his death, no flowers, no pall-bearers, not even an obituary notice until the funeral was over. His wishes were adhered to the letter. Ten days later a well-attended memorial service was held at St. Anthony's Church in Colpetty. His razor-sharp mind on legal matters, shaped by decades of experience, carried with it great compassion, sympathy and understanding. Such men are rare!!

Famous American poet Robert Frost said:

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But, I have promises to keep

And miles to go before I sleep".

Justice Anthony Christopher Alles kept his promises and travelled those miles before he slept!

-Anura Bandaranaike, Member of Parliament, Senior Advisor to the President on National Integration.