The courts would be helpless in the face of National People's Congress (NPC) decisions to breach the Basic Law, the Democratic Party warned. Solicitor and ousted legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan said the judges had argued that the provisional legislature could not be challenged because it was formed by the Preparatory Committee with the NPC's authorisation. 'This is totally unacceptable,' he said. Mr Ho said the verdict had exposed a fundamental shortcoming in the policy of one country, two systems. 'Since the SAR courts cannot challenge the decisions of the NPC, Hong Kong people will be able to do nothing if the NPC openly violates the Basic Law.' He rejected the argument that the SAR courts had no power to rule on NPC decisions, noting that they were not subordinate to the mainland's judicial system. Mr Ho's views were echoed by fellow members of the liberal camp. The Frontier last night accused the court of 'bowing to power'. 'This has set a very bad precedent. The local courts have automatically narrowed their own jurisdiction,' the group said. 'With this ruling, Hong Kong is destroying the bulwark of the 'two systems' principle, thus inviting interference with its rule of law.' Law Yuk-kai, director of Human Rights Monitor, said the ruling had rendered the institutional and legal safeguards in the Basic Law ineffective. 'Whatever the mainland authorities do, there is no chance of the courts coming to the people's rescue,' he said. Andrew Cheng Kar-foo of the United Front against the Provisional Legislature said the verdict set a bad precedent in defining the acts of state. He said the case showed grey areas existed in Basic Law Article 19, which allowed the central Government to bypass the mini-constitution. The provision affirms the SAR's independent judicial power and gives the SAR courts jurisdiction over all cases except acts of state, such as defence and foreign affairs. Mr Cheng said it was dangerous for constitutions to be bypassed to suit administrative measures. 'This is what an autocratic government does, and if Hong Kong loses its independent jurisdiction, it signals the beginning of allowing an autocratic government to control our people,' Mr Cheng said.