The father of a multi-millionaire hotel tycoon has been left 'deeply ashamed' that his son has forsaken his Sikh upbringing and excluded him from his share of the family wealth, a court heard today.
Jasminder Singh, 62, head of the £800million Radisson Blu Edwardian hotels empire, is being sued by his father Bal Mohinder Singh, 86, who accuses him of abandoning the Sikh tradition of sharing family property by excluding him from the business.
The younger Mr Singh is said to be worth around £415million, but the dispute is said to involve £50million.
The elder Mr Singh, 86, claims his son forced him to retire as director of the group, and excluded him from the business.
The elderly father gave evidence at the High Court hearing today which is being held at the May Fair Hotel in London because of his poor health.
He added that the family system was one widely understood by Hindu and Sikh communities around the world.
He said: 'My life had been devoted to winning respect for myself and family in those communities, and the respect which we have earned as a family has been the basis for the success of our business in this country.
Mr Singh said his son was 'not telling the truth' when he claimed he had not had a particularly religious upbringing.
He also said that Jasminder was not being truthful when he said not recall being told by his parents or family members that they were regarded as living as a 'joint Hindu family' in the sense that it was understood and agreed that all of the property which any of them acquired in their lifetime was to be held as Joint Family Property.
He added Jasminder was not being truthful when he claimed there had never been any agreement or understanding between them to that effect.
After lawyers said that the older Mr Singh, who claims he is entitled to a third of the family wealth under Sikh and Hindu tradition, was too ill to travel to the High Court in London's Fleet Street, the unusual decision was taken for his evidence to be heard in a conference room at the May Fair hotel, part of his son's hotel empire.
The room at the luxury hotel was arranged to resemble the layout of Court 23 at the Rolls Building, part of the Royal Courts of Justice, and counsel dispensed with their robes and wigs.
Tables were arranged in the style of a courtroom and judge Sir William Blackburne wore a suit.
Mr Singh Senior, wearing a traditional Sikh handkerchief to cover his head, and his wife, Amrit, were both brought down from their suite in wheelchairs and seated next to a doctor in charge of their care before the session began this morning.
He claims that he and his sons Jasminder and Herinder, 46, were members of a joint Hindu family and 'family property' was held under a trust for male family members.
Mr Singh Snr arrived in Britain from East Africa 40 years ago and started out running a Post Office in North London.
His son helped in the business and after he qualified as an accountant they moved into hotels, buying a rundown B&B in Kensington, West London, which they refurbished and sold on at a profit.
They gradually traded up and bought a string of upmarket hotels, including the Vanderbilt and the Savoy Court in central London, and both Mr Singhs and their wives shared a house near Ascot.
Mr Singh senior claims the case is not about the money but about tradition and his son's failure to abide by the ancient Hindu 'Mitakshara' system, which implies a sharing of family wealth.
Giving evidence today he said he was unhappy about the Edwardian group's decision in 2010 to remove him as a director.
He claims that it was this move that led to him not being given his share of the family wealth.
Ian Croxford, for Jasminder Singh, asked him: 'In 2009, 2010, you were removed as a director of the Edwardian group, and when that happened, you were unhappy.
The court heard that shortly after Mr Singh received the letter informing him of the decision he instructed solicitors to reply saying that he wanted to remain a director.
'Your solicitors were saying that at that time you had always and were continuing to discuss company matters,' said Mr Cruxford.
It is argued that his solicitors were stating that he was a shareholder in the company and as a result had certain rights in the company.
Bal Mohinder Singh said in a written witness statement that Jasminder, who he said had a 'domineering personality', had been brought up in a 'family system'.
'I and his mother are deeply ashamed that Jasminder should publicly renounce his cultural heritage and the mutual rights and obligations of the family system in which he was brought up,' he said.
'For Jasminder to deny that and claim all the credit and ownership for himself will be shocking to wide sections of (Sikh and Hindu) communities, particularly our family friends.
Lawyers for Jasminder, 62, and Herinder, 46, have disputed Bal Mohinder's claims in written submissions.
They said Jasminder denied that the relationship between him and his family was governed by principles and practices of the 'Hindu joint family'.
And they said he had no intention that the concept of 'joint Hindu property' would apply.