India's first female Supreme Court justice dead

November 25, 2023

Justice M. Fathima Beevi, India's first female Supreme Court justice, died this week at the age of 96.

Beevi served as a longtime role model and leader to women in the nation, serving as a key voice for decades during her career.

Her passing

"She was a brave woman who had many records to her name," Kerala's Health Minister Veena George said in a statement.

"She was a personality who through her own life showed that willpower and a sense of purpose can overcome any adversity," it added.

Her career

"Born in Kerala's Pathanamthitta in April 1927, Beevi graduated from the University College, Trivandrum, and studied law at the Law College in Trivandrum," the Business Standard reported.

"She enrolled as an advocate in November 1950 and worked her way up to become a district and sessions judge in 1974. She was elevated to the High Court in 1983 and became a permanent judge a year later. She made history after she was elevated to the Supreme Court as a judge in 1989. She retired in 1992," it continued.

Her impact

"As a Supreme Court judge, she became the first Muslim woman in the higher judiciary and the first woman to become a Supreme Court Justice in an Asian country," India Times reported.

"She also served as the Chairman of the Kerala Commission for Backward Classes. She was a member of the National Human Rights Commission before being appointed as the Governor of Tamil Nadu," it noted.

Beeri also received many awards during her lifetime, including the Bharat Jyoti Award and the US-India Business Council (USIBC) Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her impact on the role of women in her nation and on India's culture was among the greatest of her generation.

The passing of Beeri marks a massive loss for the people of India that will long be remembered for the many lives she touched through her work as a justice and other efforts to forge new paths for Indian women in future generations.

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