Widow rape: Church pastor gets anticipatory bail

According to the woman's complaint, on the pretext of preaching, Bhandare used to give her a glass of water, after which she would fall unconscious and he allegedly used to rape her

The Bombay High Court (HC) on Monday granted anticipatory bail to Solomonraj David Bhandare who allegedly raped a 34-year-old widow several times between 2006 and 2008.

Bhandare was a church pastor attached to the Dehu Road church in 2006. The woman's husband expired in 2001. She got acquainted to Bhandare in the church. According to the woman's complaint, under the guise of preaching her, Bhandare used to give her a glass of water, after which she used to fall unconscious and he allegedly used to rape her.

She said such incidences took place three to four times in 2006. Bhandare continued even after he was transferred to Kalewadi church. In 2008, he allegedly went to her place and repeated the offence, after which the woman realised that she was pregnant. The woman stated in her complaint that Bhandare allegedly forced her to abort the child and also refused to marry her.

Bhandare through his lawyer K S Patil, stated in the court that he is ready to deposit Rs 50,000 at the Pune magistrate court, which would be handed over to the woman as compensation for the mental agony caused to her.

The court of justice A M Thipsay, while hearing the bail application observed that 'considering his position as a church pastor, what Bhandare has done is objectionable. However, it is rather impossible to gather evidence against the allegations that the woman was intoxicated during the act.'

The court granted anticipatory bail and ordered that in event of his arrest, Bhandare be released on bail of Rs 25,000 on condition that he will attend the concerned police station for investigation from 11am to 2pm starting from January 10 and not influence the witnesses and deposit Rs 50,000 in the magistrate court as compensation for the victim.

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