A court in Rajasthan
read out charges against self-styled godman Asaram, who is currently in jail for sexually assaulting a minor girl.
District and sessions judge (Jodhpur rural) Manoj Kumar Vyas also fixed the date for hearing on February 17, while extending the judicial custody of the accused.
Asaram and his caretaker Shiva, cook Prakash, Chhindwara ashram caretaker Sharad Chandra and hostel warden Shilpi will face in the trial the charges of gang rape, trafficking of a minor, sexually assaulting a minor, assault or use criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe her, wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy and cruelty to a child.
If convicted, Asaram could be punished with life sentence. All the accused have denied the charges.
Shiva and Shilpi, who are out on bail, have been told to appear before the court on next hearing.
"When the judge was reading out the charges, Asaram became emotional and told the court with folded hands that this should be his last 'salam' to him (the judge). But judge Vyas looked away," a lawyer said.
Asaram was booked by the Jodhpur Police for alleged sexual assault on a 16-year-old girl at his Manai ashram near Jodhpur on August 15 last year.
He has been in judicial custody since September 2, as the high court has rejected his bail plea twice since then.
His son Narain Sai has also been in jail on charges of raping two sisters in Surat.