The Supreme Court on Friday sought Centre’s response within a week on a petition seeking to set an upper limit on fees to be charged by private hospitals in treating Coronavirus patients.

Petitioner Avishek Goenka, according to a report in Live Law, told the court that private hospitals are “charging exorbitant fees from COVID patients making it inaccessible to most Coronavirus positive patients, thereby impinging Article 14 and 21.

The apex court, meanwhile, during the hearing observed that charitable hospitals must give free treatment to a certain number of coronavirus patients. “Charitable hospitals must do some service,” CJI SA Bobde observed.

Seeking a detailed report on this aspect from the Centre, the Supreme Court said it will hear the matter next week.

Earlier on Thursday, the Centre had told the apex court that it has no statutory power to direct private and charitable hospitals to give free treatment to COVID-19 patients.

“There is no provision under the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010, whereby it is mandated that private hospitals running on public land shall treat Covid-19 patients on free basis. It is again reiterated that such policies may only be defined and implemented by the respective state governments,” the health ministry said in an affidavit in response to a query by the Supreme Court.

A petition in this regard was filed y advocate Sachin jain, who pointed out the commercial exploitation of Coronavirus patients in private hospitals given the scarce treatment facilities.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government has issued a list of 56 private hospitals with 50 or more beds and asked them to reserve 20 per cent beds for the patients of Economically Weaker Section (EWS).

The order listed all the hospitals which were allotted land at concessional rates by land owning agencies and are under an obligation to provide 10 per cent IPD and 25 per cent of total OPD free of charge to eligible patients from the EWS category, to reserve beds for EWS patients with coronavirus infection.

This came after Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday reminded all private hospitals of Delhi to reserve 20 per cent beds for patients undergoing coronavirus treatment, saying if they do not agree to this, they will be converted into fully Covid dedicated hospitals.

The coronavirus cases in the national capital witnessed a jump of 1,359 cases in a day, taking the total tally to 25,004 with the death toll climbing to 650.

India on Friday morning registered 9,851 fresh cases of Coronavirus and 273 deaths in the biggest single-day jump, taking the total number of infections to 2,26,770 and fatalities to 6,348.