Mary Roy, an educator and a women’s rights activist, died after a brief illness on Thursday in Kerala’s Kottayam.
She was 89 and is survived by two children, daughter Arundhati Roy, renowned writer and activist who won the 1997 Man Booker prize and son Lalit Roy.
In 1960, Roy sued her brother George Isaac to gain equal access to the property of her deceased father. The battle lasted for four decade and was finally settled in favour of Mary Roy in 2009. On Roy’s petition, the Supreme court delivered the landmark judgment against the Travancore Christian Succession Act of 1916 to ensure Christian women an equal share in family property.
Till the top court order, Christian women from the erstwhile Travancore state had been governed by the stifling provisions of the 1916 Travancore-Kochi Christian Succession Act, under which a daughter was eligible only for a quarter of the son’s share or Rs 5,000, whichever was less, when the father died intestate.
Roy was the founder-director of Pallikoodam school (formerly Corpus Christi High School) at Kalathilpady, a suburb of Kottayam town in the state of Kerala.