SC: Definition of “person” in Competition Act, 2002 is extremely wide

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 15.12.2020, in the matter of Samir Agrawal v. Competition Commission of India & Ors. pronounced that definition of “person” in section 2(l) of the Competition Act, 2002 is an inclusive one and is extremely wide, including individuals of all kinds and every artificial juridical person.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

A reading of the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002 and the Competition Commission of India (General) Regulations, 2009 would show that “any person” may provide information to the CCI, which may then act upon it in accordance with the provisions of the Act. In this regard, the definition of “person” in section 2(l) of the Act, set out hereinabove, is an inclusive one and is extremely wide, including individuals of all kinds and every artificial juridical person. This may be contrasted with the definition of “consumer” in section 2(f) of the Act, which makes it clear that only persons who buy goods for consideration, or hire or avail of services for a consideration, are recognised as consumers.(Para 13)

A “person aggrieved” must, in the context of the Competition Act, 2002 , be understood widely and not be constructed narrowly. Further, it is not without significance that the expressions used in sections 53B and 53T of the Act are “any person”, thereby signifying that all persons who bring to the CCI information of practices that are contrary to the provisions of the Act, could be said to be aggrieved by an adverse order of the CCI in case it refuses to act upon the information supplied. By way of contrast, section 53N(3) speaks of making payment to an applicant as compensation for the loss or damage caused to the applicant as a result of any contravention of the provisions of Chapter II of the Act, having been committed by an enterprise. By this sub-section, clearly, therefore, “any person” who makes an application for compensation, under sub-section (1) of section 53N of the Act, would refer only to persons who have suffered loss or damage, thereby, qualifying the expression “any person” as being a person who has suffered loss or damage. (Para 20)

When the CCI performs inquisitorial, as opposed to adjudicatory functions, the doors of approaching the CCI and the appellate authority, i.e., the NCLAT, must be kept wide open in public interest, so as to subserve the high public purpose of the Competition Act, 2002. (Para 22)

Copy of judgment: Judgement_15-Dec-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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