Mark Fernando

Mark Fernando

Justice Mark Damien Hugh Fernando (27 February, 1941 – 20 January, 2009) was a jurist and former judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. He died after a long bout with cancer on 20 January 2009[1][2].


Education and early career

Fernando was born in a family with a long judicial tradition on 27 February 1941. His father was former Chief Justice H. N. G. Fernando and his grandfather, Judge W. M. Fernando also sat on the Supreme Court. He schooled at St. Joseph's College, Colombo 10[3], and attended the University of Ceylon at Peradeniya. He took his oaths as an advocate of the Supreme Court in July 1963. Fernando first worked in the chambers of H. W. Jayawardene, QC. He shone as an advocate and was conferred Silk in January 1985. He was known to have been one of the lawyers who drafted the 1978 Constitution of President Junius Richard Jayewardene.


Fernando and his wife Pam had three children, a daughter Tanya, and two sons Sohan and Suren.

Human rights defender

Fernando was responsible for delivering many judgments during his career, that upheld the rights of citizens in respect of the right to vote, the right to freedom of speech and the right to freedom against torture and arbitrary arrest and detention.


In 2005, Fernando opted to take premature retirement from the Supreme Court, two and half years before his term ended. He was then the longest serving judge on the bench.[4]

Towards the end of his career, Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva had excluded him from hearings relating to the constitutionality of bills before the Parliament.

A massive signature campaign was launched to persuade Fernando to stay on to complete his term. Signatories covered a wide range of the political spectrum, lawyers and law students as well as the ecclesiastical heads of the Buddhist, Catholic, Anglican and Methodist denominations.


  • Habin, Haroon (2000). "Calls for Strengthening Judiciary in SAARC States." The Hindu.
  • Sorabjee, Soli (1999). "Out of Court: Sri Lankan Judiciary, Tagore & the Millennium." The Times of India. December 5.


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