Swraj Paul is first Indian in British Queen's Privy Council | india | Hindustan Times
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Swraj Paul is first Indian in British Queen's Privy Council

india Updated: Jun 23, 2009 20:43 IST

IANS
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Industrialist Swraj Paul has become the first Indian to be appointed to the Queen's Privy Council - an elite chamber of advisers to the British monarch.

"I feel honoured, privileged and grateful," Lord Paul, founder and chairman of the Caparo group of industries, told IANS on Tuesday.

"I am still finding out about its role and functioning," said Paul, who was informed of the appointment Monday.

Paul, 78, will join an exclusive body that was set up some 500 years ago and currently has 540 members, including the prime ministers of Australia, Britain and Canada, but mostly comprising senior current and former politicians.

When Paul takes the oath, he will swear to the queen and to "assist and defend? against all Foreign Princes."

His task will be to advise the sovereign on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, her personal powers, and carry them out on her behalf, their jurisdiction extending to several countries of the Commonwealth.

According to constitutional experts, these powers are "discretionary powers in the hands of the crown but exercised by ministers which create laws which do not have to pass through parliament or comply with human rights legislation".

Privy counsellors can make orders that bypass the British parliament, as they did in 2004 while overturning a court order and bypassing MPs to block the return of Chagos Islanders to their Indian Ocean homeland - a British colony also known as Diego Garcia - that is now a key US military base.

The Privy Council also has a court, the Judicial Committee, which has the power to commute a death sentence passed in certain Commonwealth countries.

The Judicial Committee is made up of the 12 Law Lords who constitute Britain's highest court of law and are members of the House of Lords.

Counsellors are appointed for life but once out of high office they are not consulted or summoned to meetings, "save upon the sovereign's demise or marriage".

In 2007, the Privy Council met 13 times formally over issues ranging from UN sanctions against North Korea to the charter of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, according to The Times.