Fathima Beevi is the first woman to be a part of the Supreme Court of India as a judge and also first muslim woman in the country to be appointed to a higher judicial post. She is from Travancore, Kerala born to Annaveetil Meera Sahib and Khadeja Bibi on 30 April, 1927. She got her initial education from Catholicate High School, Pathanamthitta, graduation from His Highness Maharaja’s University College, Thiruvananthapuram and finally Bachelor of Law from Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram.
She began her career as an advocate in the lower judiciary in Kerala in 1950. In Bar Council of India’s Exam she topped in 1950. In May, 1958 she was appointed as a Munsiff in Kerala Subordinate Judicial Services. Then promoted to subordinate judge in 1968, Chief Judicial Magistrate in 1972 and District and Sessions Judge in 1974. In January, 1980 she was appointed to Income Tax Apellate Tribunal as a Judicial Member. Reached to High Court on 04 August, 1983 became a permanent judge on 14 May, 1984 and retired from there on 29 April, 1989. She became first female judge in the Supreme Court on 06 October, 1989 and remained there till her retirement on 29 April, 1992.
She became Governor of Tamil Nadu on 25 January, 1997 till 03 July, 2001. As a Governor she rejected the mercy petitions of four prisoners accused for the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. She also got appointed as the chairman of Kerala Commission and the member of National Human Rights Commission from 03 November, 1993 to 24 January, 1997.
She got Honorary Doctorate of Literature and Mahilla Shiromani Award in 1990 and also awarded Bharat Jyoti Award.
On her entry to the apex court she said “I have opened the door” in an interview. She was against the patriarchal system in the Indian Judiciary and always supported the equal representation of women in our judiciary. Till now after her seven women have been appointed as a judge in the Supreme Court Of India whose names are Sujata Manohar, Ruma Pal, Gyan Sudha Misra, Ranjana Desai, R. Banumathi, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.