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Justice Fathima Beevi, Trailblazing Jurist Passes Away at 96

Newsclick Report |
The first woman Supreme Court Judge breathed her last at a private hospital in Kollam, Kerala, on Thursday.
Justice Fathima Beevi

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

New Delhi: In a sombre turn of events, Justice Fathima Beevi, the pioneering jurist who etched her name in history as the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of India, breathed her last at a private hospital in Kollam, Kerala, on Thursday. She was 96 years old.

Born in Pathanamthitta in 1927, Justice Beevi's remarkable journey through the legal corridors began with her graduation in Chemistry from Women’s College in Thiruvananthapuram, followed by her LLB studies at a government law college in the same city. Her academic prowess shone through as she emerged as a gold medallist in her LLB batch.

Commencing her legal career at the Kollam district court in 1950, Justice Beevi's ascent through the judicial ranks was swift. Eight years later, she transitioned to the judicial service as a magistrate and eventually reached the pinnacle, becoming the district sessions judge in 1974.

Justice Beevi's illustrious career continued to break barriers when she was appointed as a judge of the Kerala High Court in 1983. In 1989, she scripted history by becoming the first woman to don the robes of a Supreme Court judge.

Her appointment as the trailblazing woman judge not only marked a watershed moment in the legal landscape but also served as an inspiration for countless women to pursue careers in the legal profession. Throughout her tenure, she stood as a paragon of gender justice, earning admiration for her unwavering commitment to the principles of equality and fairness.

After retirement from the apex court in 1993, Justice Fathima Beevi continued to contribute to the cause of justice. She took on roles as a member of the National Human Rights Commission and, notably, as the governor of Tamil Nadu from 1997 to 2001.

However, her governorship was marked by a moment of profound decision-making. Justice Beevi, in a demonstration of unwavering commitment to the principles she held dear, resigned from the post after rejecting the mercy petitions filed by four condemned prisoners in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The legacy of Justice Fathima Beevi extends beyond her numerous accolades and titles. Her life's work has left an indelible mark on the legal and social fabric of the nation. As the news of her passing reverberates, tributes pour in from across the country, acknowledging her pivotal role in shaping a more just and equitable society.

Justice Fathima Beevi's funeral arrangements are underway in Kollam, where she will be laid to rest, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to inspire generations to come.

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