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As Judiciary Scripts History, Flashback To Fathima Beevi Becoming SC’s First Woman Judge

Fathima Beevi
Fathima Beevi was the name where it all started. It being the inclusion of women in the very top tier of the Indian judiciary. As it expectedly should have, that feat didn’t make the avenues any wider for women in law. Gender representation has still remained decidedly lopsided towards men.

But the road since 1989 has been a long, arduous one and slowly, but surely, every turn of the calendar is knocking down the glass ceiling a bit further. India is here now, today, welcoming three women judges into the Supreme Court at the same time in a historic first.

Justices Hima Kohli, Bela Trivedi and BV Nagarathna took oath in Delhi on Tuesday for appointments to the apex court, taking the number of sitting women judges in the SC to four, including Justice Indira Banerjee. What’s more, Justice Nagarathna is poised to become India’s first-ever woman Chief Justice of India (CJI) in the next decade!

The foundation stone women judges in SC have been building on was laid down by Fathima Beevi a little over three decades ago. Her position in the top court was momentous not only from the lens of gender but also for Beevi being the first Muslim woman to ever assume office in India’s higher judiciary.

A Look Back At Former SC Judge Fathima Beevi’s Supreme Court Tenure

Born, raised and educated in Kerala, Fathima Beevi formally entered the field of law by enrolling as an advocate in 1950 – the same year the Supreme Court first assembled. She moved through various roles in the state judiciary and in the 1970s, was elevated to Chief Judicial Magistrate and then to the position of a District-Sessions Judge.

Between 1983 and 1989, Beevi was a judge in the Kerala High Court, and after the end of her tenure there, took a pioneering jump into the apex court as its first woman judge. Post-retirement from SC in 1992, Beevi’s career as Tamil Nadu’s Governor saw a series of crests and troughs that involved her backing Jayalalithaa’s Chief Ministership and her ultimate resignation amid political furore.

Beevi’s name finds recognition and reverence alongside the likes of Anna Chandy, a trailblazer in the Indian judiciary prominent for being the country’s first woman judge. For seniors and freshers alike, these women leaders in law have carved a place as figures of inspiration to forever push for justice and equality in courts.


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