Lilly Thomas is no more

LILLY Thomas, the senior-most woman lawyer of the Supreme Court of India passed away at the age of 91.

Known for her fearless arguments in court, Lilly was a public-spirited lawyer who fought many human rights cases and stood against political corruption.

Lilly challenged Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to stop the entry of convicted individuals into legislative houses. In 2013, at the age of 85, she won her case and through the judgment, clipped the wings of corrupt politicians from entering Parliament.

“Boldness is the indispensable disposition and quality for women lawyers. Study of law is an extremely liberating and strengthening experience. It helps in personality development”, Lilly said in an interview in 2013.

In an interview with The Leaflet, on the occasion of International Women’s Day in March 2019, Lilly exhorted young lawyers to “learn the basics of the Constitution and stay away from superstitions”.

Watch: The last interview with Lily Thomas to @TheLeaflet_in given to Dr Chandra



She filed several public interest petitions in the Supreme Court including a challenge to the Advocate-on-Record system.

Born in Kottayam in 1927, Lilly grew up in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. She studied law at the University of Madras and belonged to the first generation of women lawyers in India. In 1959, she became the first woman in India to complete an LLM from the University of Madras.

Lilly moved to Delhi in 1960 to practice law at the Supreme Court of India. She joined the Supreme Court at a time when there were only three women lawyers in active practice.

Lilly sought to use the law to bring about change in society and in doing so she embodied all that is noble in the profession. An inspiration for all lawyers, her’s was a life well-lived.

The Leaflet