The Supreme Court had appointed senior counsel Shyam Divan as Amicus Curiae to assist the Court in a case involving an alleged scam worth Rs7,500 crore by Ponzi schemes run by Royal Twinkle Star Club Ltd and Citrus Check Inns Ltd.
The order to appoint Mr Divan as Amicus Curiae was passed by a bench of justices Rohinton Nariman and V Ramasubramanian. Mr Divan, who was counsel for one of the petitioners in the case, agreed to give up his brief (case) and take up the role of Amicus Curiae. An amicus curiae (literally, 'friend of the court') is one who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case.
The court also acceded to the request made by Mr Divan to have advocate Vipin Nair as advocate-on-record (AOR) and advocate Vinayak Bhandari to assist him.
The Supreme Court is monitoring a phase-wise sale of Royal Twinkle Star Club and Citrus Check Inns to protect the interests of investors. Both the companies have raised about Rs7,500 crore from over 18 lakh investors through a collective investment scheme (CIS). This scheme was sold to investors by agents appointed by the companies.
Citrus Check Inns is the new avatar of Royal Twinkle Star Club, infamous for selling holiday packages to gullible people on monthly instalment basis and promising high returns on their investment. Several agents of both these entities were found hard selling these as investment plans just to earn more commission and also recruiting new agents for marketing it.
Both RTSC and Citrus Check Inns are owned by Mumbai-based Mirah group, which runs hotels under the name Citrus and retail food chain restaurants such as Rajdhani, Mad Over Donuts and Falafels. Citrus Check Inns website claims that it gives freedom to its members to travel over 30 Indian and 3,000 overseas destinations.
Earlier in August 2015, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has directed Royal Twinkle Star Club Ltd (RTSC) and its four directors to refund within three months, money collected from investors under its holiday package plans. The markets regulator also refused to lift a ban on Citrus Check Inns (new avatar of RTSC) and its directors in a 'collective investment scheme' (CIS) case promising returns on 'holiday plans'. (Read: Royal Twinkle Star Club, directors asked to wind up ‘holiday’ investment schemes)