Supreme Court’s Senior Most Female Lawyer Lily Thomas Dies Aged 91

NEW DELHI || The senior-most female lawyer in the Supreme Court of India, Lily Thomas passed away at a New Delhi hospital on Tuesday. She was 91 years old. Born in Kottayam, Kerala and raised in Thiruvananthapuram before her family shifted to Chennai, she enrolled in the bar at the Madras High Court in 1955.

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.

She was renowned and respected for several Public Interest Litigations she filed in the apex 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 practising 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.

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