Fathima Beevi was the first female judge to be appointed to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (1989) and the first Muslim woman to be appointed to any higher judiciary. On her retirement from the court she served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission and as Governor in Tamil Nadu from 1997 to 2001.Also she received the Hon. D. Litt and Mahila Shiromani Award, in 1990. She was also honoured with the Bharat Jyoti Award and the US-India Business Council (USIBC) Life Time Achievement Award.
Early Life & Education
She was born in a small village of Pandalam down south in Kerala. She studied in the Catholicate High School in Pathanamthitta. She then went on to do her graduation in Bachelor of Science from the University College in Trivandrum. Her stint in the field of law began when after her graduation; she went on to study law from the Government Law College.
Beevi was first enrolled as an Advocate on 14th November, 1950. Her first step in law began in the lower judiciary of Kerala in 1950. Interestingly, this was the same year when the Supreme Court was set up.
She rose through various ranks working as Munsiff in the Kerala Subordinate Judicial Services, as a Subordinate Judge, as a Chief Judicial Magistrate, as a District & Sessions Judge, as a Judicial Member of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. In 1983, she was inducted as a High Court Judge.
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In 1989, Fathima Beevi became the first woman to be inducted as a judge in the Hon’ble Supreme Court. With this, India became the first country in entire Asia to have the first female Hon’ble Supreme Court judge.
Governor of Tamil Nadu
After retiring in the year 1992, Justice Beevi served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). In 1997, she was appointed as the Governor of Tamil Nadu, an eventful stint that ended in in 2001.