The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Monday asked the Mumbai Police to register a first information report against Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray for involving children in a protest held against the concretisation of the Aarey forest area in Mumbai, reported Bar and Bench.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction has been protesting the Ekanth Shinde government’s decision to shift the Metro-3 car shed back to Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, which is regarded as one of the city’s last remaining “green lung”.

Shifting the car shed was one of the first decisions taken by Shinde after he was sworn in as the chief minister on June 30, replacing Uddhav Thackeray.

In its notice to the police, the child rights body said that using minors in protests are in violation of Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, and Article 21 (right to life) and Article 23 (prohibition of trafficking human beings and forced labour) of the Constitution.

Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act deals with punishment for cruelty towards a child.

The child rights body has asked the police to submit an action taken report and a copy of the first information report within three days.

The commission said that it had received a complaint on the matter from Dhrutiman Joshi, the legal head of Sahyadri Rights Forum. The organisation’s Twitter handle says its aim is to “safeguard fundamental rights of people from Sahyadri region and general Indian interests”.

The Sahyadri Rights Forum had shared Thackeray’s tweet that showed children with posters against the Maharashtra’s government decision to relocate the metro car shed in Aarey Colony.

Aarey controversy

In 2019, when Thackeray was sworn in as the chief minister, he had passed an order to stop work on the Aarey car shed. The previous Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government had faced flak for the construction of the shed in Aarey from concerned citizens, who wanted to protect the area from concretisation.

On October 11, 2020, Thackeray had announced that 800 acres of land in the Aarey Milk Colony in Mumbai would be declared a reserve forest and that the car shed for the metro project in the area would be relocated to Kanjurmarg.

However, in December 2020, the Bombay High Court had ordered a status quo on the project, staying the order granting possession of a land in the Kanjurmarg area to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority for the metro rail project.

On June 30, Fadnavis had asked the bureaucrats if the state’s advocate general could be assigned to inform the courts that the car shed can be built in Aarey itself and not Kanjurmarg. Shinde had seconded the decision.