As a law firm that specializes in the area of family law, we have been approached by numerous Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) seeking to understand their rights and obligations under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. One specific provision that is applicable to NRIs who wish to solemnize their marriage in India is Section 7 of the Act.
Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act states that a marriage between two Hindus can only be solemnized if neither party has a spouse living at the time of marriage. This means that if one or both parties are already married and their previous spouse is still alive, then they cannot enter into another marriage under this act. The provision applies not just to resident Hindus but also to NRIs who are Hindus and desire to get married in India under this act.
The relevance of Section 7 for NRIs lies in its applicability despite geographical distances. Many NRIs may find themselves navigating complex legal systems across different countries where laws governing marriages differ from those prevalent in India. For example, some countries recognize polygamous marriages or provide limited grounds for divorce as compared with Indian laws on these issues. In such cases, an NRI may return to India seeking refuge under the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act so long as they meet its requirements.
There exists a plethora of case laws interpreting and expanding upon Section 7 over the years which set out what constitutes prior subsisting marriages within the meaning of this section. For instance, it was held by The Supreme Court Of India in Jayadevan V.S vs Radhakrishnan O.P  INSC 256; AIR 2001 SC39], that “where an NRI has validly dissolved his/her first marriage according to foreign jurisdiction law before entering into subsequent alliance… it would not come within ambit contemplated u/s11 i.e bigamy”. Essentially stating any dissolution ought legally must conform strictly with foreign country’s law for it to be held valid.
Another case, Pankaj Mahajan vs Dimple @ Mandevi & Anr  INSC 1; (2006) 3 SCC 382], makes clear that ‘a marriage between two Hindus would not be within the ambit of Section 5 if either party had a living spouse at the time of solemnization of marriage’. We cannot state enough how important these cases are in providing clarity and interpreting what can otherwise seem simple provisions, but with far-reaching consequences for those affected by them.
Moreover, it should also be noted that this provision is not only relevant when getting married in India under the Hindu Marriages Act. It has been used as legal protection against claims made by one’s former partners years later under different jurisdictions. The landmark case Amardeep Singh vs Harveen Kaur  SC on 12-09-2017 which led to amendments being made changing s.13B(2) enacted expressly limiting settlement clauses from becoming any part of decree or agreement between parties during pendency of divorce suit
In conclusion, NRIs who wish to get married within the bounds of Indian laws ought strictly stay faithful to all requirements set out under Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act. This provision may seem straightforward on its face but taking into account its practical application across borders and varied jurisdictional constraints requires expert guidance and interpretation through detailed assessments using well-settled precedents like those outlined above amongst many others we have come across in practice over time.