Sehgal's Chennai connection

Lakshmi Sehgal was born Lakshmi Swaminathan in October 1914, in Madras, to S Swaminathan, a barrister with the Madras High Court and Ammu Swaminathan, a social worker from Palakkad in Kerala.

The Swaminathans had four children, two daughters and two sons. While Lakshmi went on to become one of India’s greatest woman freedom fighters, her younger sister, Mrinalini, excelled in classical dance.

Mrinalini later married distinguished physicist Vikram Sarabhai, known as the father of the Indian space programme. She founded the “Dharpana Academy of Performing Arts” in Ahmedabad. Their daughter, Mallika Sarabhai, went on to become an accomplished “Kuchupudi” and “Bharatnatyam” dancer.

Lakshmi studied here and completed MBBS from  Madras Medical College in 1938. Thereafter, she left for Singapore and set up a medical clinic there to attend to the needs of migrant labourers from India, while her brother Govind Swaminathan established himself as a lawyer.

Like his father, Govind also became a “legendary legal luminary” in Chennai, after his graduation from Oxford University.

Known for handling many famous cases of his times that made legal history, including the Lakshmikanthan murder case, Govind Swaminathan served as the “Crown Prosecutor” of the Madras High Court. After independence, he became the Attorney General of Tamil Nadu. Govind passed away here in 2003 at the age of 94.

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