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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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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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy: Part 1 (Continued)

I continued my education after High School at the Maharaja’s College. Because I had a slight partiality for the Malayalam language, I approached the Malayalam professor Sri C P Parameswaran Pillai to seek his view, hoping to opt for Malayalam as my elective subject. When I told him, he looked astonished, and said, “My kutty, don’t bother us — Mappilas (that was a common way of referring to Christians) are very poor in Malayalam. I am not sure whether you will even score pass marks. Whatever, don’t even think of taking it as your optional subject.”

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy – I (Continued)

[In this part of Anna Chandy’s autobiography where she talks of her childhood, her mother’s tough love made me think. I have always thought about my life that contrary to much common sense, tough love has served me much better than the overprotectiveness that is favoured these days by parents. Tough love is an implicit acknowledgement of your potential to develop as a human being while overprotectiveness implies your permanent state of passivity. Tough love is a form of power that provokes resistance and makes you immune to it later (as is so beautifully evident in this section), while overprotectiveness just weakens the immune system altogether, making you break down at the first encounter with life out there. Also, as the difference between Anna and Sara show each one learned to absorb and resist in different ways, so tough love, however much it may try, can never succeed in producing identical subjects.]

An orderly routine

Our usual practice was to cook in the morning, pack our lunches, and leave for school. The routine at home was very structured. All of us were expected to leap out of bed as though we had springs attached to our backs when the alarm clock rang at five in the morning. If we were late even by a moment, the warning call, “edi kochanne, saramme, do I need to come there?” would sound. Our parrot, which heard it regularly, learned it by heart, and if Ammachi was delayed for some reason, it would screech the same words and wake us up.

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