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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 April, 2004, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Patak family feud 'is settled'
Kirit Pathak and his mother Shantagaury
Kirit Pathak was given his sisters' shares by their mother
The bitter legal battle which tore apart the family behind the multi-million pound Patak's Indian food empire looks to have been settled.

The High Court was told a provisional agreement has been reached.

The case was triggered by claims from two of the Pathak daughters that they had been cheated out of their shares.

Chitralekha Mehta, 56, and Anila Shastri, 52, claimed they had lost out after being given the shares by their father.

They took action against company boss Kirit Pathak after claiming he had been given their company shares by their mother.

Award-winning company

The daughters said they had allowed their mother to have the shares for safekeeping and that they never intended to lose control of them.

Kirit, of Heaton, Bolton, later bought out his brothers and parents to take control of the award-winning Indian food company based in Lancashire.

Mrs Mehta said: "We are both very happy. We have won and the truth has prevailed.

Chitralekha Mehta (left) and brother Yogesh Pathak
Mrs Mehta (left) said the battle was about family unity not money
"This was not about the money. We have fought this case to get back what we thought was rightfully ours - that is, the shares in the company."

The settlement will give some satisfaction to the youngest Pathak son, Yogesh, who had urged Kirit in a letter two years ago to "swallow his pride and do the right thing" by settling out of court in a "genuine desire to salvage family unity".

Wednesday's deal will not be completed until the details have been translated into Gujarati so that the family's 77-year-old matriarch, Shantagaury Pathak, can agree to it.

Mrs Pathak was co-defendant with her son in the action brought by the sisters.

The daughters argued they were victims of a Hindu culture in which business assets always went to the sons of a family.

Tiny kitchen

The legal costs of the case, which ran for more than six weeks, are expected to reach 1m.

In a classic rags-to-riches story, Shantagaury Pathak and her husband Laxmishanker arrived in Britain from Kenya in 1955, accompanied by their four sons and two daughters with only 5 between them.

They began by selling samosas from their tiny kitchen and eventually, under the control of Kirit, built up a business with a 54m turnover, supplying 90% of Britain's 7,500 Indian restaurants.

He even dropped the "h" in the family's name to make it easier for English speakers to pronounce.

The BBC's Luisa Baldini
"It's a case that has the ingredients for a Bollywood movie"

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