Marital rape is a “disgraceful offence”, and not criminalising it has made “a large population of women” suffer, the Gujarat High Court said. The bench made the statement while hearing a plea by a man, who sought to have his wife’s case against him for forced oral sex quashed because they were married, Live Law reported on Tuesday.

The court will now examine whether forcing one’s wife to perform oral sex should be a criminal offence, and if yes, under which law. Marital rape is not a criminal offence in India, and in August, the Centre told the Delhi High Court that criminalising marital rape could destabilise the institution of marriage.

“Marital rape is in existence in India,” Justice JB Pardiwala said on Monday. “It is a disgraceful offence that has scarred the trust and confidence in the institution of marriage. A large population of women has faced the brunt of the non-criminalisation of the practice.”

Issuing a notice to the woman, the court also asked the government of Gujarat for an explanation on whether forcing one’s wife for oral sex should be an offence under Section 377, or Section 498(A), or Section 376 of the Indian Penal code. Section 377 makes unnatural sex a criminal offence, Section 498(A) criminalises marital cruelty and domestic violence, and Section 376 criminalises rape.