Justices K K Sasindhran and P D Audikesavalu of the Madurai Bench also restrained the Vedanta group from taking any steps to reopen the unit.
Hearing a petition against reopening of the Sterlite unit following the December 15 NGT order, the court directed that status quo will continue till January 21 and ordered the state government to inform by then whether it intended to file an appeal against the tribunal verdict.
The bench issued notice to the state chief secretary and the Chief Executive Officer of Sterlite to file their counter.
On an appeal by the Sterlite, the NGT had quashed the May 28 order of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for permanent closure of the plant in the wake of protests by locals, holding that that it was "non-sustainable" and "unjustified".
Sterlite had on Thursday said it had sought permission from the TNPCB for reopening the plant.