In an unusual move, a five-star hotel was turned into a court in the UK to allow a wheelchair-bound 86-year-old father of a multi-millionaire NRI hotel tycoon to give evidence against his son in a 50 million pound (about Rs. 500 crore) property dispute.
Jasminder Singh, 62, head of the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotels empire, is being sued by his father Bal Mohinder Singh, who accuses him of abandoning the Sikh tradition of sharing family property, by excluding him from the business.
Jasminder is said to be worth around 415 million pound (around Rs. 4,150 crore), but the dispute is said to involve 50 million pound.
Bal, who requires 24-hour care, was unable to attend the high court due to ill-health, so the unusual decision was taken for his evidence to be heard in a conference room at the five-star May Fair Hotel. He came in a wheelchair to give evidence against Jasminder.
Bal said the case was not about money but tradition and his son's failure to abide by the ancient "Mitakshara" system, which implies a sharing of family wealth.
Giving evidence, he said he was unhappy about the 800-million pound hotel group's decision in 2010 to remove him as a director.
Ian Croxford, on Jasminder's behalf, asked him, "In 2009-10, you were removed as a director of the Edwardian group, and when that happened you were unhappy. You felt that you were capable of making a continuing contribution to the company."
Bal replied, "Yes."
Judge Sir William Blackburne is being asked to decide as a preliminary issue if the family property is subject to any constructive trust under the English law, and if so what the terms of such a trust were.
The father has previously said he started Jasminder on the road to his millions by funding his initial ventures after selling his nightclub in Kenya and starting a post office in Stamford Hill.
He later moved into the hotel business with his son.