19th Century Abandoned Court Building About to Collapse

By Eunice Ruth and K. P. Sunil | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 20 2021
Focus 19th Century Abandoned Court Building About to Collapse

By Eunice Ruth and K. P. Sunil 

Kandulawa Magistrate’s Court building which belongs to the Ibbagamuwa Divisional Secretariat was left abandoned for the past several years and currently is in a dilapidated condition.

This court was used by the people of the area for more than 100 years, and the residents of Kandulawa have requested the Government Officials and other responsible authorities to renovate the building. 

The residents of Kandulawa said that, several other abandoned buildings in the village have already fallen and currently this building is also facing the same situation where it can fall off at any moment. According to history, this Magistrate’s court was established by a foreign judge in late 1800s or in early 1900s.

 The cases were handled by him at that time and later, after him, a judge from Matale came, and he started continuing the cases at the court. At the beginning it was named as Gamsabha court and then later it was converted to Magistrate’s court. In those days, the cases of Gokarella, Wellava, Polpithigama and Ridigama were also conducted in this court. On a daily basis the court handled many cases. However, slowly it started reducing to only two cases per week. 

After 2000, the court services were suspended permanently and no cases were heard in this court.. The residents said this building was previously used as tourist bungalow and after sometime, the owner of the building converted it to a tourist inn. Later on the Government converted it to a Magistrate’s court. H. M. Lokubanda, a resident of the village, has requested the Government to renovate the building and make use of it without leaving it abandoned. He also said his father was a staff member at the courts and he loves these courts as much as he loves his father. 

We feel sorry to see it in this condition. Currently, it has been identified as an abandoned building. However, it is an asset to the country and it should not fall into ruin like this. The Government should renovate and use it for other purposes. “The court had no facility to take the criminals to the Bogambara Prison on the same order issued day. Due to this, the criminals were tied up to trees in their own gardens using chains. 

Later, it was continued as a tradition of the court,” he said. Also, he noted that, S. W. R. D. Bandaranayake had visited the place once to have a discussion with the foreigners. Even the current Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has visited this court once, while the court premises were used for a drama shooting. Another resident of the village Ananda Jayalath, noted that, the main judgement hall of the court is in such a bad state it will collapse soon. 

Several other buildings in the surrounding have also buckled down due. This building can be renovated and used as a Samurdi office or it can be given to the public for other uses. It will be very helpful for the public. However, till today, the needed attention towards this building has been not given by any responsible authorities. The Ibbagamuwa Divisional Secretary, Wasantha Warnakulasooriya noted that Ibbagamuwa Educational Zone and Samurdhi Bank Association has requested to handover this court land for them. 

However, while contacting the Archaeological Department in this regard, they said that this specific location has a archaeological value and it cannot be transferred to anyone for any other purposes. Due to this concern, we have requested the commissioner of the Kurunegala Archeological Department to separate the needed land and give us the remaining for the renovation process. Soon the measuring process and the renovation process of the land will begin.

By Eunice Ruth and K. P. Sunil | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 20 2021

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