LILY THOMAS v UNION OF INDIA [2013 (7) SCC 653] which curbed the wings of politicians who have been convicted of criminal offences.


BACKGROUND: Her enduring effort for society did not stop when the petition to this effect filed in 2005 was dismissed. This dismissal was not a drawback rather motivated her to take a step ahead which resulted in success only in her third attempt.

FACTS: This PIL was filed by Adv Lily Thomas and an NGO Lok Prahari challenging Section 8 (4) of the Representation of People Act, 1951, which provided for the continuation of a sitting member of Parliament, even after being convicted for an offence punishable for more than two years if an appeal against the order of conviction is filed with three months.

Issue before the court:
1. Whether the parliament was competent to enact section 8(4) of the Act in light of powers conferred under Article 102 and 191 of the Indian constitution?
2. Whether the section under challenge ran contrary to the provisions of the Indian Constitution?

1. Article 102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of the Constitution provides for the parliament to make a single law of disqualification for a member who is to be chosen as a member and for sitting members of any house.
2. The article puts a limitation on power of Parliament to defer the date of disqualification and special provision cannot be created to avoid natural corollary of disqualification.
3. Section 8(4) of the Act was held to be ultra vires to the Constitution of India as the same makes distinction between sitting members and proposed to be members.

LILY THOMAS V UNION OF INDIA & ORS [AIR 2000 SC 1650] (Protecting rights of married women)
ISSUE: Whether a non-Muslim who converts to the ‘Muslim’ faith without any real change in belief but merely with a view to avoid an earlier marriage or to enter into a second marriage, would be liable for bigamy under section 494 IPC?

Held: Marriage resulting from conversion to Muslim from any other faith during the existence of previous marriage is deemed to be void even when Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Act allows polygamy; as such conversion is not in exercise of freedom rather the act of conversion is motivated to enter into second marriage. Such marriage was held void and in violation of Article 21.

In re Lily Isabel Thomas AIR 1964 SC 855 (Right to practice)
In 1964, Lily Thomas was the first advocate to file a petition challenging the validity of the ‘Advocate on Record’ system by challenging the validity of Rule 16(1) of Order IV of the Supreme Court Rules as amended in 1962, which contains the prescription of qualifications. She emphasised upon the right of an advocate to practise before Hon’ble Supreme Court and this right does not only extend to right to plead but also to act and hence the impugned Rules which prescribe qualifications before she could be permitted to act were invalid. Though her petition failed but it paved the way for many more petitions that have been filed in this regard and the issue of the AOR system has been debated many time ever since.

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