Justice Fathima Beevi, the first woman judge of the Supreme Court and former Governor of Tamil Nadu, passed away at the age of 96 in a private hospital on Thursday.
Expressing condolences, State Health Minister Veena George stated, “The demise of Justice Beevi is extremely painful. She was a brave woman who had many records to her name. She was a personality who, through her own life, showed that willpower and a sense of purpose can overcome any adversity.”
Justice Fathima Beevi had left an indelible mark on the judiciary as the first woman to ascend to the prestigious position of a Supreme Court judge. Her contributions extended beyond the courtroom, as she also served as the Governor of Tamil Nadu, leaving an enduring legacy in the realm of governance.
Justice Fatima, a legal luminary hailing from Kerala, was born in 1927. She topped the Bar Council exam in 1950, with the distinction of being the first woman to be adorned with the prestigious Bar Council gold medal.
She ascended to the position of district and sessions judge in 1974 and later, in 1980, joined the esteemed Income Tax Appellate Tribunal before ascending to the High Court in 1983.
In 1989 she made history by becoming the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court, also securing the distinction of being the first Muslim woman in the higher judiciary across Asia.
Post her retirement in 1993, she continued her commitment to public service, contributing as a member of the National Human Rights Commission and later as the Governor of Tamil Nadu.
However, her tenure as Governor was not without controversy, culminating in her resignation after rejecting mercy petitions in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.