Mystery shrouds death of legal scholar

Shamnad Basheer

A legal scholar, who played an important role in reforming legal education in the country was found dead in Chikkamagaluru on Thursday.

The body of Professor Shamnad Basheer, an alumnus of the National Law College of India University in Bengaluru and Oxford University, was found by police in a field outside Chikkamagaluru, following an intense manhunt on Thursday morning.

Sources said he was missing for three to four days, although the police were informed of it only on Thursday. Chikkamagaluru Superintendent of Police Harish Pandey said Basheer’s body was found in his Skoda SUV which was parked in an open area, 300 metres from the road.

There was no apparent cause of death though the state of the body suggested asphyxiation. 

“The key was in the ignition, the doors were locked from inside and the heater was on. When we broke open a door, we found an electrical discharge running along the doors and the floorboards. It is possible that he died of carbon monoxide poisoning but we won’t know the facts until the postmortem on Friday,” Pandey said.

Born on May 14, 1976, Basheer joined an intellectual property law firm in New Delhi following his graduation from NLSIU, before moving to Oxford, where he attained a Bachelors in Civil Law (as a Shell Centenary Scholar) and a Master of Philosophy with distinction. 

He earned fame for his intervention in a landmark case, including the Pharma giant Novartis.

But his greatest achievement, according to many, was his formation of Increased Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education (IDIA). The NGO works to make legal education accessible to poor students.

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