Lily Thomas was born in Kottayam and grew up in Thiruvananthapuram. Advocate Lily Thomas, the most senior female lawyer of the Supreme Court, passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning at Max Hospital in New Delhi’s Patparganj. She was 91.
She was born in Kottayam, Kerala and raised in Thiruvananthapuram before her family shifted to Chennai (then Madras). In 1955 she enrolled in the bar in the Madras High Court. Two years later she joined the LLM course at Madras University and became the first woman to graduate from the course. Upon completion of the course, she became an advocate in the Supreme Court and was one of a mere four women who were practising in the courts at the time.
The advocate is renowned for several Public Interest Litigations she filed in the Supreme Court. One of the most remembered of which is her petition which resulted in striking down of Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act. This had allowed for convicted lawmakers to continue practicing during the time it took for appeals made against them to be heard in court. The landmark judgement resulted in the automatic disqualification of convicted legislators for a minimum of two years. The government prepared an ordinance to retract the ruling, which was challenged by a review petition made by Lilly Thomas. Subsequently the government withdrew the ordinance after facing severe backlash and criticism to it.
Lily Thomas also had challenged section 494 (marrying again during the lifetime of husband or wife) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Several took to Twitter to give their condolences.
“Nonagenarian Lilly Thomas whose indefatigable zeal to fight for a better India saw the SC hand down landmark verdicts to clean up the polity, including disqualification of convicted netas, passed away in a India, sadly on a day when again defection & money power triumphed!,” wrote advocate Sanjoy Ghose.
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