Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Remembering Justice Fathima Beevi: India’s First Woman Supreme Court Judge


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Justice Fathima Beevi

Mains level: NA

Justice Fathima Beevi

Central Idea

  • Justice Fathima Beevi, the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of India (also the first Muslim woman Judge of SC), passed away at the age of 96 in Kerala’s Kollam.

Who was Justice Fathima Beevi?

  • Early life: Born in 1927, Justice Beevi was the eldest of eight children and came from a family where her father, Annaveetil Meera Sahib, encouraged his daughters’ education despite societal norms.
  • Decision for Law: Her father persuaded her to pursue law instead of post-graduation in Chemistry, inspired by the story of Anna Chandy, the first woman judicial officer in Travancore.
  • Breaking Barriers: She made history by graduating in law in 1950, becoming the first woman law graduate to receive the gold medal from the Bar Council.

A Symbol of Women’s Empowerment

  • Pioneering Achievement: Justice Fathima Beevi’s appointment as the first Muslim woman judge of the Supreme Court was a milestone in India’s legal history.
  • Role Model: She became an icon of women’s empowerment, encouraging women to pursue careers in the legal field.
  • Recognition for Kerala: Kerala gained recognition as the state that contributed the first female judge to the country through her appointment.

A Trailblazing Legal Career

  • Junior Advocate: She began her legal career as a junior advocate at Kollam district court, facing resistance from orthodox elements due to her headscarf.
  • Barrier Breaker: Despite initial challenges, Justice Beevi rose through the ranks, eventually joining the judicial service as a munsiff in 1958.
  • Remarkable Achievements: She continued to break barriers, becoming the district sessions judge in 1974 and getting elected as a munsiff through a competitive exam.

Political Career

  • Judicial Ascension: Justice Beevi’s journey continued as she was appointed as a judge of the Kerala High Court in 1983, and later elevated to the Supreme Court in 1989.
  • Champion of Equality: In the Supreme Court, she advocated for equality in significant verdicts, including cases related to reservation and constitutional safeguards against arbitrary state authority.
  • Governor of Tamil Nadu: Justice Beevi served as the governor of Tamil Nadu from 1997 to 2001, making headlines for her role in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and political developments.

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