International Women’s Day: Who was the first woman judge to assume office in Supreme Court?

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Justice M. Fathima Beevi became the first woman judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court of India, in 1989. She also held the distinction of being the first Muslim woman to be appointed to any higher judiciary, and the first woman judge of a Supreme Court in Asia.

Born on April 30, 1927 at Pathanamthitta,  Kerala, Justice Beevi(retd) served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission and as Governor inTamil Nadu after her superannuation, from 1997 to 2001.

She completed her schooling from Catholicate High School, Pathanamthitta and graduated in science from University College, Trivandrum. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Law from Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram.


Justice Beevi(retd) was enrolled as a lawyer in 1950, and began her career in the lower judiciary in Kerala. She was appointed as the munsiff in the Kerala Sub-ordinate Judicial Services in May, 1958, and ten years later, was promoted as sub-ordinate judge in 1968. She became the chief judicial magistrate in 1972, and assumed office as district & sessions judge in 1974.

She was later appointed as the judicial member of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal in January, 1980. Three years later, she was elevated to the High Court as a judge in August 1983.

She became permanent Judge of the High Court in May 1984. She retired as high court judge in April 1989 but was further elevated to the Supreme Court as a judge on October 6, 1989. She retired from the post on April 29,1992.


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