A 10-year-old boy was stripped and paraded semi-naked in Khanapur village in Sangli district on Saturday after he was caught stealing a purse by locals.
He was also beaten up by the people, before police arrived on the scene.
Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil termed the treatment meted out to the boy as "inhuman", and said local authorities would be instructed to take action against the culprits.
"I have been hurt by the whole incident. It is an inhuman act. There are other ways too to improve the conduct of children," Patil told reporters in Mumbai.
"I am taking the issue very seriously and the concerned authorities will be instructed to take action against the culprits. Also, we will see to it that such incident is not repeated in the state," Patil said.