Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 26 February 2024 5.11 PM IST

Demise of Justice Fathima Beevi


Not many people have reached the Supreme Court by starting from a Munsiff job at the other end of the justice system. Justice Fathima Beevi holds such a record. Along with that, she also holds the position of being the first female judge of the Supreme Court, a record which cannot be broken by anyone. It must be noted that Fathima Beevi, a member of a minority community from Kerala, became the first woman judge of the Supreme Court at a time when patriarchy ruled the courts. Fathima Beewi also holds the distinction of being the first Muslim woman to hold the highest judicial position.

Fathima Beevi took office as a judge in the Supreme Court in 1989. She served as a Supreme Court judge till April 29, 1992. Although she had retired from service as a High Court judge on 29 April 1989, on October 6 of the same year, she was appointed by the President as a Supreme Court judge. All these are rare occurrences in legal history. Her life was filled with many such rarities.

Fathima Beevi was born in Pathanamthitta in 1927 in an ordinary family. Her excellence in education brought her to the top. She completed her primary education at a government school in Pathanamthitta. After graduating in Chemistry from Thiruvananthapuram University College, she passed B.L. from Law College. During that time, it was very rare for Muslim women to enter the legal field. Later, Fathima Beevi's glorious life inspired women born in normal family backgrounds in the Muslim community and in other communities to reach such high positions.

She was enrolled as an advocate in 1950. In the very same year, she started her professional career as a Munsiff in the Lower Judiciary after coming first in the Bar Council examination. Back then, no one could have even imagined that she would go on to become a Supreme Court judge one day. After retiring from the Supreme Court, another high constitutional position came to her. She was appointed as the Governor of Tamil Nadu on 25 January 1997. The infighting in Tamil Nadu's Dravidian politics had dragged Fathima Beevi's governorship into many controversies. During Jayalalitha's tenure as Chief Minister, Fathima Beevi had to witness the arrest of DMK leader Karunanidhi, who had openly declared all support for her to become the Governor of Tamil Nadu. Following the whirlwind of politics in Tamil Nadu, Fathima Beevi resigned as governor in 2001 before completing her term.

She also served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission. Earlier this year, the Government of Kerala announced her as the recipient of the Kerala Prabha Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to social and legal fields. She was unmarried and led a life dedicated to the various fields of work in which she worked. The demise of Justice Fathima Beevi has caused a great loss to the legal and social fields. Kerala Kaumudi is paying its tribute in front of her memories.

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