The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal on Monday transferred the petition filed by Sterlite Industries challenging the state Pollution Control Board’s order to close down its copper smelter plant at Tuticorin, to the Principal Bench in New Delhi.

When the matter came up for hearing here, the Bench, comprising judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member R. Nagendran, said “circumstances did not permit us” to further hear the case.

The bundle of files relating to the case and report of the expert panel which went into the issue, submitted in a sealed cover, would also be sent to the Principal Bench, they said.

“Since, the members of this Bench were not inclined to hear the case further, a request was made to the Chairperson of the Principal Bench to consider the appeal,” they said.

The Bench further said the case has already been listed in the cause list of the Principal Bench today, adding, “the parties are directed to appear before the Principal Bench.”

The Registry was also directed to transfer all cases relating to the case to the Principal Bench in New Delhi.

The Bench was “at it for 25 days,” they said.

When a lawyer sought to know the reasons behind the shifting, they said “You cannot ask and we cannot say... There could be thousands of reasons.”

Sterlite Industries had sought a stay on the TNPCB order to close down its copper smelter plant in Tuticorin for posing health hazards after protests by locals in the wake of the alleged noxious gas leak from it last month.

The company had claimed its plant adhered to required safety norms.

The Tribunal had appointed a four-member committee, including top scientists from IIT Madras, to undertake a study of the plant.

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