The Autobiography of Anna Chandy — Part 3 Continued

The Nagercoil Munsiff: In a Hurry to Become ‘Your Honour’

My participation in the dramatics at the VJT Hall in connection with the Sri Chithira Tirunal Library’s anniversary celebrations brought me the special goodwill and affection of the Queen Mother. Before six months passed, I was summoned to the palace and she asked if I would accept a Munsiff’s post if offered. Without thinking of the pros and cons, I said that I would be happy to accept it.

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy — Part 2 –Continued

In the Legislative Assembly

The nominated members were often derided as mere kaipokkikal –aye-sayers. But during my term in the Assembly (from ME 1106 – 1108) [1930-32], I made a conscious effort to prove myself to be much more than just an aye-sayer.  Let me give you an example. According to the eleventh section of the Travancore Municipal Regulation (the Fifth Regulation of 1095), women, along with people with mental instability, people who cannot see and hear, and leprosy patients, were excluded from membership in Municipal Councils.

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy Part II — Continued

The Son Shot the Father: Who Won? Who Lost?

After the favourable verdict in the Pottal case, I began to receive many offers to fight murder cases. I will not describe all of those here. Still, I will end this narration of my career as a lawyer after giving you an account of a case that caused a sensation in Travancore those days, which was fought at the Paravur Sessions Court — the Kaloor murder case.

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy Part II — Continued

The Pottal Murder Case

I have already mentioned earlier the infamous Pottal murder case that I fought in the Nagercoil Sessions Court some time after I had registered at the Travancore High Court. There were six persons accused in that case. The first accused was a major landlord and the father of a police inspector, Thankaswami Nadar. The rest were his dependents.

Continue reading “The Autobiography of Anna Chandy Part II — Continued”

The Autobiography of Anna Chandy Part II — Continued

My First Criminal Case

Let me also tell you of the first criminal case I argued. It was a state brief — that is, when an accused is too poor to hire a lawyer in defense, then the government arranges for one. The fees one was paid for such a case those days was Rs 50. Judges used to keep aside such cases to encourage young lawyers. The case I got was of IPC 304 (A), that is, distracted and irresponsible driving leading to death. My husband was keen that I argue this well and gain a victory, and the fame from it, so he taught me all the aspects carefully. The place of the accident was a bend in the road at Changanassery.

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy — Part II — Becoming a Lawyer and an Official

My first case

It was around this time (1929) when Mr Chandy was transferred to Kottayam as a Prosecuting Inspector. There was a rule that one had to practice in a district court for a year before enrolling at the High Court. So I who had moved to Kottayam with my husband, I enrolled in the district court of Kottayam and entered the field as a lawyer. I began my career as a junior to a leading Kottayam lawyer, Mr John Nidhiry. I was enrolled by the District and Sessions Judge, Sri Seetharama Iyer.

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Memory: My Radhamol: Devayani Kunhambu

Translated by J Devika

[Accounts of the resistance and suffering of women and children during political struggle in mid-20th century are relatively rare — this is therefore a very valuable account, from a leading woman activist of the Communist Party in the 1930s and 40s who married a male colleague who later became a prominent leader. If party leaders were hidden by the most deprived sections of the people who took the brunt of police violence for them, this account reveals how their wives, too, found refuge in the families of working-class, lower-caste women. Devayani’s story is also unique in another way. While the wives of upper-caste communist leaders were protected by their families, often large joint families — tarawads — Devayani, who hailed from south Kerala, Travancore, married a man from Malabar and migrated there and lived in a labouring community, and for her, the experiencing of marrying a communist involved learning to labour as well.]

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy — Part 1 (Continued)

Appendix

So I decided to write up all the sorrows I had suffered as the first woman lawyer in Thiruvitamkoor at the Law College and after and relate how I faced all of it with real tantedam, courage, and claim a Veerachakra for it after I left the field, and searched my files, to find an amusing article written by Sri A G Ganguli in the Sunday Statesman of 27 January 1970 titled ‘Portias in Search of Recognition’. It was then I found out about the strange experiences that my forerunner who applied to practice in court after getting her law degree. Reading it, I, who had been granted permission the moment I applied, found my pride waning somewhat. I am going to add some parts of that article here so that my lawyer brethren who followed me and women officers in the department of law and justice at least who are interested may know.

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy — Part 1 (Continued)

To the Law College

Those days, Sara Pothen had just completed her BA and was living with her parents. Mr Chandy met Mr Pothen and discussed the matter of sending his daughter to the Law College. He was willing; so was his daughter. I have already told you that Mr Chandy returned with the application form to Law College. I tried my last hand to escape from it, but to no avail. He completed the form himself. I signed it, with much reluctance and fear.

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy — Part 1 (Continued)

Mr Chandy Enters My Life

I was a third-year student at the Arts College, Thiruvananthapuram, when Mr Chandy entered my life making me his life-partner. I was 21 then; he, 30. At that time, I was a nobody — just the daughter of the widow Sara who was a teacher at the Holy Angels’ Convent. There was nothing remarkable about me except my excellence in studies.

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