The Centre should identify private hospitals for the free or low cost treatment of the vulnerable and underprivileged COVID-19 patients  Credit: File image

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to identify private hospitals so that coronavirus infected patients can get the required treatment at a minimal cost or for free.

As per reports, the bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said that private hospitals that were given land either for free or at a nominal rate by the government should open their gates for free treatment of COVID-19 patients. The bench also comprised of justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy along with solicitor General Tushar Mehta posted the matter for hearing after one week.

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Mehta who appeared for the Centre said the Supreme Court that this needs to be decided by the government as it was a policy issue and also said that he would file a response to this issue.

The apex court on April 30 issued notice to the Centre and looked for its response on the plea which was filed by advocate Sachin Jain, which alleged that private hospitals are exploiting the patients commercially who are suffering from coronavirus in this hour of emergency.

The petition has said that the government should command private clinics that are running on public lands given at concessional rates or running under the classification of charitable institutions to treat COVID-19 patients either free or on a non-profit basis at least for now.

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It has additionally looked for the Centre to bear the expense of COVID-19 treatment at private medical clinics for poor people and underprivileged.

It has said that the Centre, in the exercise of powers under the Disaster Management Act, has directed the expenses of tests for COVID-19 in the private health sector, and on the same analogy, the government can likewise control the expense of treatment in private hospitals to battle the pandemic.

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