Who was Mary Roy? Educator and Women’s Rights activists passes away

Mary Roy was known for winning the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court case in 1988 which ensured equal rights in the family property for women belonging to the Syrian Christian Community in Kerala.
Mary Roy passes away
Mary Roy passes away

Mary Roy passed away: A celebrated champion of gender equality and a renowned educator, Mary Roy passed away on September 1, 2022, in Kottayam, Kerala at the age of 89. Mary Roy was the mother of Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy and was known for winning the landmark judgement of Supreme Court case in 1988 which ensured equal rights in the family property for women belonging to the Syrian Christian Community in Kerala. Mary Roy was also the founder-director of Pallikoodam School at Kalathilpady, a suburb of Kottayam town in the state of Kerala.

Know more about Mary Roy’s life journey, her accomplishments, and her work as the champion of women’s rights activists.

Who was Mary Roy?

Mary Roy was the daughter of P.V. Issac, an entomologist who was trained in England. She was denied her share of the familiar property because of the Travancore Succession Act of 1916 because of which she sued her brothers after her father's death. This became the first case that made its way through the Indian court system which she also won. Mary Roy’s daughter Arundhati Roy is the Man Booker Prize winner.

Mary Roy was known for winning a Supreme Court lawsuit in 1986 against a Gender biased inheritance law that was prevalent within the Syrian Malabar Nasrani community in Kerala.

The judgment ensured equal rights for Syrian Christian women as with their male siblings in their ancestral property. Untill then, her Syrian Christina community followed the provisions of the Travancore Succession Act of 1916 and the Cochin Succession Act, of 1921.

Mary Roy vs State of Kerala: What was the case?

The women of Mary Roy’s Christian community were not able to inherit property because of the Travancore Succession Act of 1916. Contending this, she filed a case against George Issac, her brother after the demise of her father P.V Issac in 1960. Mary Roy sued her brother to gain access to the inheritance left to them. The lower court at first rejected her plea.

Mary Roy then approached the Kerala High Court in 1994 to get the lower court’s judgment overruled. She was successful and after her mother’s death in the year 2000, Mary Roy approached the Kottayam Sub-court for the final decree. The cases continued till 2008 years after which she finally received the property.

Mary Roy: Personal Life

Mary Roy has admitted to having a complicated relationship with her elder brother George, who she had sued, and also mentioned separation from her husband.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy has a character Ammu who was based on her mother Mary Roy who also confirmed that she is very similar to the character her daughter wrote.

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