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 20 November 1969(1969-11-20) (aged 61)
Cause of death cerebral haemorrhage
Spouse(s) Joachim Alva

Violet Hari Alva (24 April 1908 – 20 November 1969) was an Indian lawyer, 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 24 April 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 Hari 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, Alva 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 her as Vice-President of India.

Personal life[edit]

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

Violet Alva suffered a fatal cerebral haemorrhage three days after resigning on 20 November 1969.

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