Leela Roy
1900 - 1970

Early Life:

Leela Roy was born on 2 October 1900 at Goalpara, Assam. She completed her schooling from the Eden High School at Dhaka. Subsequently, she earned a scholarship for completing B.A at English in Bethune College, Calcutta where she was a recipient of a gold medal. Soon after, she graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Dhaka: University of Dhaka’s first female graduate. Roy's achievement encouraged the University to organise special evening classes for women.  


Role in India’s Independence Movement:

Roy was a staunch feminist, and worked towards establishing educational institutions for women. Roy foundedDeepali Sangha’ in 1923, that educated and trained women on social and political issues, leadership skills and physical fitness. She vehemently opposed gendered norms: she believed women cannot be restricted to just managing the house and 'mothering' responsbilities. Roy believed the women's role in the independence movement was also not limited to picketing of liquor shops, foreign cloth shops and weaving khadi cloth. 


In order to promote political participation among women, she established a magazine called ‘Jayashree’ in 1931. The magazine facilitated discussions on nationalism and social issues among its readers.


In 1926, she joined the 'Shree Sangha', a revolutionary organisation led by Hemchandra Ghosh and Anil Roy.


In 1928, she was invited as a delegate to the Congress Session at Calcutta. At this Session, she presented a paper on History of Women’s movement in Bengal.  In 1938, she was nominated to the Women’s Sub-Committee of the National Planning Commission.


Roy soon became a member of the central executive body of the Forward Bloc founded by Subhas Chandra Bose and took on an editorial position in the ‘Forward Bloc Weekly’. 


Contribution to Constitution Making:

She was elected to the Constituent Assembly from Bengal on 9 December 1946. However, she resigned a few months later in protest against the partition of India.


Later Contributions:

In 1946, Roy helped the victims of the Kolkata riots and built the National Service Institute for rescue and relief work at Noakhali. She worked ardently for the rights of refugees: in opposition to the Unauthorised Persons’ Eviction Bill of 1951, she organised protests. The Bill was amended and adopted as the Resettlement of Refugees and Eviction of Persons in Unauthorised Occupation of Land Act, 1951.


Roy's role in politics continued after independence. She became the chairwoman of the party formed by merging the Forward Bloc (Subhasist) and the Praja Socialist Party in 1960. She retired from active politics in 1962.


She passed away on 11 June 1970.

Roy was not a member of any committee. 

Roy resigned from the Constitutent Assembly to protest the partition of India and Pakistan. 

1. Flaming Leela Roy -Agamoni Lahari Bijoy Kumar Nag Translated by:Sumitra Dutta 

2. Jayashree and the Nationalist-Feminist Women