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Shamnad Basheer - extraordinary visionary, lawyer, human being - passes away

Rest in peace, Shamnad Basheer
Rest in peace, Shamnad Basheer

Prof Shamnad Basheer, who despite his young age of 43 had become one of the most well-known, influential and impactful lawyers and academics in India, passed away earlier today in an accident.

Basheer, an NLSIU Bangalore graduate, was a pathbreaking academic, having founded the hugely influential SpicyIP blog before blawging was even a thing in India.

In 2010, he was also the founder of the Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) initiative, which has allowed dozens if not by now hundreds of underprivileged students to study at India’s top national law universities, providing funding and support throughout their studies.

Some of these students have already gone on to join the judicial services exams and to work in the legal profession.

Basheer has probably single-handledly done more to change the dialogue around privilege in the legal profession than any other lawyer in recent times.

After leaving NUJS Kolkata in 2014, where he had held the MHRD ministry’s IP chair professorship, he had spent his time tirelessly growing IDIA, working on institutionalising it, and teaching at several universities.

Basheer had been suffering from ill health for a number of years now.

His is truly a big loss for the legal community, but fortunately for the profession, his legacy is bound to endure, as evidenced by the outpouring of grief and accolades.

Update 20:27: IDIA executive vice president Aditi Kamath has made the following statement, with a detailed official statement to follow separately:

It deeply saddens us to inform you that our founder and managing trustee, Prof. Shamnad Basheer has passed away. Each of us not only grieves at the passing of such a tremendous individual but also for the loss the IDIA family suffers.

IDIA will continue to carry forward his legacy and work towards equitable access to legal education. At this difficult moment, we continue to count on the kind support that you have shown towards IDIA over the years.

NLU Delhi intellectual property (IP) professor Yogesh Pai:

The news of Prof. Shamnad Basheer’s untimely and tragic demise comes with unimaginable sadness and utter shock. He was not just a brilliant academician but a dear friend, and a benevolent mentor to many. A scholar par excellence, a deep thinking academic, who shaped the course of IP law and policy in India with several legal interventions, Public Interest Litigations, high-impact scholarship, and path-breaking legal activism.

Above all, a wonderful human being, a great humanist, who made a difference in the lives of many an underprivileged student through his enduring efforts in the founding and functioning of IDIA. The void he has left can never be filled, but the profound impact he made as a scholar, mentor, and friend will always live on in fond memories. He will be truly and dearly missed. His legacy carries on in the heart of every person whose life he touched.

The disability sector in India is richer for Shamnad Basheer’s contributions - his support to the work around the Copyright Law Amendment for accessibility of published works, and the inclusion of young lawyers with disability in the IDIA programme. Rest in power, Shamnad.
-Amba (@MumbaiCentral)

Shocked and pained to hear abt the untimely death of Prof @shamnad Basheer in an accident. His contribution to the legal field is unmatched particularly through @IDIALaw & @SpicyIP. I hope someone takes the baton of @IDIALaw forward to help underprivileged venture into law.
-Abhishek Dubey (@abhishekcdubey)

Founder of @IDIALaw and SpicyIP & one of the most humble person I ever met, Prof. @shamnad Basheer is no more. He fulfilled dreams of more than half a century underprivileged students, including me, study in top law schools. I literally owe my life to him. #RIPShamnadBashee
- Manash Mandal (@ManashManav)

I am shocked beyond words to hear that Prof. Shamnad Basheer has passed away in a tragic accident. His fight for the rights of underprivileged students & their access to legal education cannot be forgotten. It’s an irreparable loss to the entire legal fraternity.
-Jay Sayta (@jnsayta)

Shocked to hear this. What a tragic untimely death of an idealist and scholar, devoted to his students, worked tirelessly for equal opportunities. Terrible loss.
-Sagarika Ghose (\@sagarikaghos)

Such a sad day. The brilliant, humane Prof Shamnad Basheer is no more. He gave so selflessly, worked tirelessly to get disadvantaged people access to quality legal education. Why are good people going early?? So many people will remember him fondly and with gratitude
- Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha)

Prof Shamnad Basheer’s death is a truly devastating loss to the Indian legal community. He led the fight to make the CLAT more accountable over the years, and was the leader in the fight for access to legal education.
- Vensy (@vensykrishna)

It’s hard to accept that the years hold no more wonderful, inspiring conversations with Shamnad. He taught me what hope and heart count for. It was a privilege to see him build IDIA, and to stand up for the vulnerable even when his energy was fading. Rest in power, my friend. - Chinmayi Arun (@chinmayiarun)

@inabluehouse Impossible to believe that Shamnad is gone. The most generous and kind soul and a visionary. @IDIALaw and the legal academy will be poorer without him. It’s deeply saddening to know that he is no more. Irreparable loss to legal education!
-Jhuma Sen (@inabluehouse)

Heart broken to hear the news of Shamnad Basheer @shamnad passing away. The world desperately needs more people like him. He was one of the finest legal scholars of his generation, but what set him apart was a desperate urge to make the world a better place! Alas, it has 1 less. His work and memory can never be diminished. We all owe it to him and the legal profession to keep his work going - and there is no better cause than supporting his brain child - @IDIALaw. RIP Shamnad
-Mohit Abraham (@abraham_mohit)

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