Violet Alva

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Violet Alva
Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha
In office
19 April 1962 - 16 November 1969
Personal details
Born (1908-04-24)24 April 1908
Died November 20, 1969(1969-11-20) (aged 61)

Violet Hari Alva (April 24, 1908 - November 20, 1969) was an Indian lawyer and politician and Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.[1] She was the first woman lawyer to appear before a High Court in India and the first to preside over the Rajya Sabha.

Early life[edit]

Alva was born Violet Hari on April 24, 1908 in Ahmedabad. She was the eighth of nine children. Violet's father, Reverend Laxman Hari, was one of the first Indian pastors of the Church of England. Having lost both her parents when she was sixteen, her older siblings provided for her education till her matriculation at Bombay's Clare Road Convent. She graduated from St. Xavier's College, Bombay and Government Law College. For a while thereafter, she was a professor of English at the Indian Women's University, Bombay.

In 1937, Violet married freedom fighter and later parliamentarian Joachim Alva. The couple set up legal practice together. In 1943, Violet Alva was arrested by British Indian authorities. Pregnant with her second son, Chittaranjan, Alva was imprisoned in Arthur Road Jail.


In 1952, Violet was elected to the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament.[2] After the second Indian General Election in 1957, she became Deputy Minister of State for Home Affairs.

In 1962, Alva became the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, thereby becoming the first female to preside over the Rajya Sabha in its history.[3]

In 1969, Alva resigned after Indira Gandhi declined to back Alva as Vice-President of India. She suffered a fatal cerebral haemorrhage three days later.

Personal life[edit]

The couple had two sons, Niranjan and Chittaranjan, and a daughter, Maya. Niranjan Alva married Margaret Alva, parliamentarian and present Governor of Rajasthan.[4]

The Government of India issued a stamp commemorating Violet and Joachim Alva in November 2008.[5][6]