Advocate Lily Thomas, Senior most judge of the Supreme Court, passes away during the early hours of Tuesday. She drew her last breath at the Max Hospital, Patparganj, New Delhi. She was 91 years old. She has filed a number of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) in the Supreme Court.

Key Takeaways:

  • Born in 1927 in Kottayam, Lily Thomas is known for filing numerous PILs to modify existing laws for betterment.
  • She had joined the Madras High Court in 1955 after obtaining an LLM Degree from the Madras University
  • It was because of her that the Supreme Court reaffirmed in 2000 that a man cannot enter bigamy merely by changing his religion.
  • She was the first woman in India to qualify for an LLM degree.

“Boldness is the indispensable disposition and quality for women lawyers. The study of law is an extremely liberating and strengthening experience. It helps in personality development” – Lily Thomas

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To Have Criminals As Politicians Is An Insult To Our Parliamentary System

It was only after the petition filed by her that the Supreme Court struck down Section 8(4) whereby convicted lawmakers were no longer allowed to continue without disqualification during the pendency of appeals challenging the conviction. “To have criminals as politicians is an insult to our parliamentary system” – she told Bar and Bench in an interview. As expected, the government prepared ordnance to nullify the judgment but Thomas filed a review petition against the ordnance. Later, the government was forced to withdraw the ordnance following severe criticism. It was a landmark ruling, which resulted in the automatic disqualification of legislators upon conviction for a period of two years or more.

Moreover, she was also one of the first lawyers to file a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the ‘Advocate on Record’ system on 14 January 1964. Under this system, only those advocates could file a petition who had qualified the AOR exam. Therefore, Thomas put forth that under Section 30 under part IV of Advocate act mentions that no advocate can be debarred from practicing in any of the courts in India including the Supreme Court and so no restriction should be imposed on passing an exam. She also added that Section 16 differentiates between lawyers as advocates and senior advocates.

The issue of AOR was challenged and debated multiple times but on 16 October 2015, Supreme Court strict down the AOR exam system and upheld the collegium system.

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First Woman In India To Qualify For An LLM Degree

“Boldness is the indispensable disposition and quality for women lawyers. The study of law is an extremely liberating and strengthening experience. It helps in personality development,” she said. Interestingly, she was also the first woman in India to have qualified for an LLM Degree. She shifted her practice from the Madras High Court to the Supreme Court in 1960. She drew her last breath during the early hours of Tuesday at the Max Hospital in Delhi.

The issue of AOR was challenged and debated multiple times but on 16 October 2015, Supreme Court strict down the AOR exam system and upheld the collegium system.

Picture Credit: LAWNN

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