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Supreme Court’s first female Muslim judge M. Fathima Beevi dies at the age of 96

The first woman judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court of India and former Governor of Tamil Nadu, Justice Fathima Beevi, died at a private hospital here on Thursday, official sources said. She was also the first Muslim woman judge to be appointed to any higher judiciary. (Late) Justice Fathima Beevi, during her long and illustrious career, has served as a role model and exemplar for women across the country.

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

Kollam, Kerala: The first woman judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court of India and former Governor of Tamil Nadu, Justice Fathima Beevi, died at a private hospital here on Thursday, official sources said. She was also the first Muslim woman judge to be appointed to any higher judiciary. (Late) Justice Fathima Beevi, during her long and illustrious career, has served as a role model and exemplar for women across the country.

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After serving as a Supreme Court judge, she also left her mark on the political arena by being appointed as the Governor of Tamil Nadu. She was 96-years-old. Fathima Beevi’s name is inscribed in golden letters not only in Judiciary but also in the history of the country.

State Health Minister Veena George condoled her death by saying that the demise of Justice Beevi was extremely painful.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, which came into being on January 26, 1950, also very few women judges since its inception, and in over 71 years, appointed only eight lady judges, starting from M Fathima Beevi in 1989. 96-Year-old started her career as an advocate in Kerala and worked her way up to become a district and sessions judge in 1974. In 1980, she joined the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and was appointed as a High Court judge in 1983.

M.Fathima Beevi was born on April 30, 1927, a resident of Pandalam, Kerala, had completed her schooling at the Catholic High School in Pathanamthitta. Later she obtained Bachelor of Science degree from Thiruvananthapuram College and her father encouraged her to study law. In 1950, she topped the Bar Council exam, becoming the first woman to receive a Bar Council gold medal.

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In 1989, she achieves milestones by becoming the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, a position she held till her retirement on April 29, 1992. Upon her retirement, she first served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission, before being appointed as Governor of Tamil Nadu.

She stepped down from the post of Governor of Tamil Nadu after rejecting the mercy petitions filed by four condemned prisoners in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

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