Intellectual Property Law specialist Shamnad Basheer passed away in a freak car accident in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka. The 43-year-old scholar, who was the founder of Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA, was missing for the past four days after he had gone to Baba Budan Giri from Bengaluru for a health check-up on July 28. Shamnad was scheduled to return to Bangalore on Monday (August 5) but remained untraceable. His family members filed a missing complaint on Wednesday.
The search party, along with the local police, was unable to locate his car initially due to heavy rains and thick fog in the area but later found it parked away from the road.
Although an investigation into the incident is underway and the cause of death is yet to be ascertained, the Superintendent of Police of Chikkamagaluru, Harish Pandey, told The Hindu, "It seems like he slept in the car, switching on the heater. Inhaling too much of carbon monoxide could be the reason for his death. There are chances of a short-circuit too."
The post mortem will be conducted on Friday and his mortal remains will be taken to Kerala for the last rites. "We are waiting for the post-mortem to be done to obtain clarity on the death. Foul play is being ruled out because the car was locked from the inside and the key was in the ignition," said Pandey.
Professor Shamnad opened a new portal and paved the way for the production of cancer drugs at minimal cost in India. The legal scholar also argued that India has the potential to produce medicines for diseases, including leukaemia, without the application of global patent law.
In a landmark battle with the Swiss drugmaker Novartis in 2012, Shamnad had argued before a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court that the company was trying to sell Glivec, a cancer cure medicine at a distinct twentyfold markup. The medicine is sold by the generic drug makers in India at a very low price and Novartis had tried for a patent over Glivec, which was rejected after which it approached the apex court.
Shamnad, who is from Kerala's Kollam, completed his graduation from National Law School of India University, Bangalore, and did his post-graduation from the University of Oxford. He was also the Frank H Marks Visiting Associate Professor of Intellectual Property Law at the George Washington University law school in Washington DC.
He started his career with an intellectual property law firm in Delhi, Anand and Anand. He founded IDIA in 2010 with a vision to help the students from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds to crack law entrance exams and provide them with quality education.
In 2008, he joined the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata, as the first Ministry of Human Resource Development Chaired Professor in Intellectual Property law. He was awarded the Infosys Prize for Humanity in recognition of his outstanding contributions to legal issues.