Locus Standi Dilemma: Interpreting “Person Aggrieved” u/s 53B in Competition Act Appeals

[By Gurman Narula & Sharad Khemka]

The authors are students of National Law Institute University, Bhopal.



Section 53B of the Competition Act states that any enterprise, government or “any person aggrieved” can file an appeal challenging the order of the Competition Commission of India. The term “Person aggrieved” is not defined anywhere in the whole act, the courts and tribunals have tried to delineate the definition of person aggrieved in the context of the Competition Act but there is no fixed definition of the term and the court has followed different approaches while assessing the Locus Standi of Appellants who have filed an application u/s 53B of the Act. Although individuals who are parties to the case can file an appeal, the law is unclear on persons who are not parties to the case.  

The discussion will begin by exploring the judicial evolution surrounding the term “person aggrieved.” Following this, the latest position on this matter will be elaborated. The terms will be analysed within different contexts to ensure a thorough comprehension. Lastly, an evaluation of the legal standpoint will be conducted, along with a discussion of suggested solutions. 

Judicial evolution of the term ‘Person Aggrieved’  

There is no definition of ‘person aggrieved’ in the competition act. The competition act states that ‘any person aggrieved can file an appeal’. The act provides that a person has to be aggrieved in order to file an appeal challenging the order, there is no part of the act which seeks to define the term.  

The courts while delineating the term has relied on judgements which provide a general overview of the term ‘person aggrieved’. The court in the case of Adi Pherozshah Gandhi v HM Seervai observed that, “Disappointment with a case’s outcome doesn’t grant a ‘person aggrieved’ status. There must be a loss of expected benefits due to the order, leading to a legal grievance. Mere disagreement with the order or belief in someone’s guilt isn’t sufficient for legal standing”. 

Further, in the case of A. Subash Babu v State of Andhra Pradesh it was observed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that, “The term ‘aggrieved person’ is flexible and abstract, defying rigid definition. Its interpretation depends on various factors, including the statute in question, specific case circumstances, the complainant’s interests, and the extent of prejudice or injury suffered.” 

While discussing the Locus Standi u/s 53B, the circumstances of each case shall be discussed and the intent of the Competition Act needs to be taken into consideration. The intent behind the Competition Act can be inferred from the Preamble of the Act which is;  

An Act to provide, keeping in view of the economic development of the country, for the establishment of a Commission to prevent practices having adverse effect on competition, to promote and sustain competition in markets, to protect the interests of consumers and to ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants in markets, in India, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. 

The term can be given different meanings in different circumstances which will be discussed in the later stage.  

The court in the case of Ayaaubkhan Noorkhan Pathan v State of Maharasthra observed that, “It is legally established that outsiders cannot interfere in proceedings unless they prove they are aggrieved. Only those who have suffered legal harm can challenge actions in court. The court can enforce a public body’s duty if the petitioner proves a legal right, essential for invoking the court’s jurisdiction. Relief sought must enforce a legal right, usually belonging to the petitioner.” 

These judgments did not delineate the term ‘person aggrieved’ in the context of Competition Act or in the specific circumstances of that of an appeal related to the Competition Act.  

Person Aggrieved in the context of the Competition Act 

The NCLAT in the case of Jitendra Bhargav v CCI delineated person aggrieved in the context of Competition Act by taking into account various judgements, some of which has been provided in the earlier section.  

The NCLAT noted that Locus standi needs to be proved before proceeding with analyzing the merits of the case. In the case, Jitendra Bhargav filed an appeal challenging the order of CCI approving the merger between Jet and Etihad. 

Jitendra Bhargav contended that there is a likelihood of Appreciable Adverse Effect on Competition (AAEC).  

NCLAT held that likelihood of AAEC cannot pose as a sufficient ground to allow the appeal of Jitendra Bhargav and it needs to be proved first that the person appealing the order is an aggrieved person and the order of CCI cannot be discussed on merits until the Locus standi of the appellant is proved.  

The Supreme court in the case of Samir Aggrawal v Union of India held that, “The expression ‘any person’ in section 53B needs to be construed liberally. The court held that appeals which are in the nature of public interest should be allowed and since the CCI performs an inquisitorial function, the doors of CCI and the appellate body NCLAT must be kept wide open. 

This case brought a shift in the approach adopted by the courts and the tribunals while delineating who will constitute as a person aggrieved within the meaning of Section 53B. It led the courts and tribunals to take a liberal and expansive approach rather than strict interpretation of the section.  

The latest case involving appeal u/s 53B is that of UP glass manufactures v CCI. NCLAT in the present case allowed the appeal filed by UP glass manufactures while adopting the approach taken in the case of Samir Aggrawal.  


Although the approach established in the Samir Aggrawal case is in line with the intent and objective of Competition act as it seeks to allow appeals that aim to ensure a level playing field and prevent firms from indulging in anti-competitive practices, it leads to perplexity and inefficiency as this approach cannot be used uniformly in all the cases.  

In the case of UP glass manufactures, the appeal was allowed, NCLAT observed that the appellant has made it clear that appeal was filed in the nature of public interest as the appellant has been opposing the combination before the approval as it filed an information u/s 19 alleging the combination to be anti-competitive.  

The case of UP glass manufactures followed the approach laid down in the Samir Aggrawal case but the circumstances of the former case were different. There is still no approach which can be uniformly applied across all the cases.  

The case of Samir Aggrawal v CCI has established a position regarding section 53B of the Competition act but there still exists confusion as the extent to which public interest can be considered is not defined, further the same approach cannot be taken in every case as facts and circumstances of every case are different and using same approach will lead to injustice and inefficiency as; firstly there is a likelihood that it will lead to a floodgate situation [A] , secondly it will hamper competition [B] 

[A] Floodgate situation  

Although the Supreme court held that Section 53B needs to be construed liberally in order to allow appeals in public interest, the court did not lay down a yardstick to demarcate the boundaries of what will constitute as pubic interest. If appeals which are in the nature of public interest are allowed, it will lead to a floodgate situation as any individual can file an appeal challenging the order of CCI if they establish the appeal is in public interest.  

[B] Detrimental effect on competition.  

The position of law on Section 53B is still not clear and there is no approach which can be uniformly adopted in every case. The facts and circumstances of every case are different and if the appeal is allowed in public interest, it can lead to competitors filling an appeal challenging the order of CCI which are not in favor of their commercial interest. Although, if the procedure has been followed and the order is not valid on merits, if appeals are allowed, there is a likelihood that this will lead to a company witnessing a loss in its share price or popularity in the market.  

Illustration – Company A is acquiring Company B. Company A files a notice to CCI for approval of the acquisition and the CCI approves it. Now, Shareholder of Company B decides to challenge the order of CCI u/s 53B stating that the appeal is in public interest. Now, if the approach as established in Samir Aggrawal case is followed, there is a high possibility that appeal would be allowed. This will lead to decrease in credibility and popularity of company A as prima facie it would appear that Company A is indulging in an anti-competitive practice.  

A Way Forward 

The courts and tribunals have tried to delineate the term person aggrieved mentioned in section 53B but still there is no uniform definition which can be applied in all cases.  

In order to solve the dilemma, the Competition Act can be amended to include an explanation clause in section 53B which defines the term ‘person aggrieved’ or the term itself can be defined though insertion of a clause in Section 2 of the Act which defines all the terms.  

Further, there can be an insertion of a schedule which mentions the person who can be considered as person aggrieved and who can be allowed to appeal the order of CCI u/s 53B.  


The interpretation of “person aggrieved” in Section 53B of the Competition Act remains ambiguous, causing inconsistency in appeal rulings. While the liberal approach in Samir Aggrawal v. Union of India aims to serve public interest, it may result in floodgate appeals and harm competition. Without clear criteria, allowing appeals in the name of public interest risks misuse and undermines the Act’s objectives. Legislative amendments or defined parameters are needed to ensure fairness and efficiency in appeal decisions, striking a balance between public interest and maintaining a competitive market environment. 

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