India’s first female Supreme Court judge, Justice Fathima Beevi, passed away at 96 on Thursday.
Appointed to the apex Court in 1989, she became the first female judge to be a part of the Supreme Court of India, and the first Muslim woman to be appointed to any of the higher judiciaries in country.
On her retirement from the court, she served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission and later as the Governor of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu from 1997 to 2001.
In 2023, she was honoured with Kerala Prabha Award, the second-highest honour given by the Government of Kerala.
Fathima Beevi was born on 30 April 1927 at Pathanamthitta in the Kingdom of Travancore, now in the Indian state of Kerala, as the daughter of Annaveettil Meer Sahib and Khadeeja Beevi into Rowther Family.
She attended Town school and Catholicate High School, Pathanamthitta and got her BSc in chemistry from University College, Thiruvananthapuram. She obtained her B.L. from Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram.
Beevi was enrolled as Advocate on 14 November 1950. She topped the Bar Council exam in 1950. She began her career in the lower judiciary in Kerala. She was appointed the Munsiff in the Kerala Sub-ordinate Judicial Services in May, 1958. She was promoted as the Sub-ordinate Judge in 1968 and as the Chief Judicial Magistrate in 1972, as District & Sessions Judge in 1974.
She was further appointed the Judicial Member of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal in January, 1980. She was then elevated to the High Court as a Judge on 4 August 1983.
She became permanent Judge of the High Court on 14 May 1984. She retired as the Judge of the High Court on 29 April 1989 but was further elevated to the Supreme Court as a Judge on 6 October 1989 where she retired on 29 April 1992.
She later went on to become the Governor of Tamil Nadu on 25 January 1997.