The Supreme Court said on Thursday the controversial Norwegian cruise liner, Blue Lady, should not be dismantled without its permission.
Blue Lady has beached at India's ship-breaking yard at Alang in the western state of Gujarat. Environmentalists, led by Greenpeace, say the 46,000-tonne ship contains more than 900 tonnes of toxic waste like asbestos, risking the health of poorly equipped ship-breakers at Alang.
"Breaking cannot take place without our orders," the court said, when it was told the ship had beached at Alang.
The petitioner representing the environmentalists sought orders restraining authorities from breaking up the ship. The court declined this but said: "If it's done without our orders, we shall deal with it."
In June the court allowed Blue Lady to enter Indian waters but appointed an expert committee to look into how much toxic waste was on board, before it could be broken.
The committee has to formally submit its findings to the court but senior Alang port officials said earlier this month the panel had cleared Blue Lady and it was ready to be scrapped, raising concern among environmentalists.
In February, the French government recalled the former aircraft carrier Clemenceau, which had been heading for Alang, after a lengthy campaign by Greenpeace, which said the ship carried toxic waste.
A Greenpeace report published last year said thousands of workers in the ship-breaking industry in countries such as India, China and Pakistan had probably died over the past two decades in accidents or due to exposure to toxic waste.