It is nothing but the statement of the maker of the report at a police station before a police officer recorded in the manner provided by the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. It is only when the report is such that investigation could be started on it, that it can be called a first information report. It is that information on the basis of which the investigation with regard to the crime commences.
It has, however, to be noted that any sort of information which is given first in point of time, is not necessarily the first information. In order to constitute a first information, two things are necessary : it must be information, i.e., (i) it must be something in the nature of a complaint or accusation or at least information of a crime to set the machinery of the police in motion, and (ii) it must relate to a cognizable offence on the face of it. (Section 154)
Its evidentiary value:
Although first information recorded by the police is of considerable value at the trial showing as it does on what materials the investigation commenced, it is not a piece of substantive evidence, but may only be considered for the purpose of corroboration under Section 157 of the Indian Evidence Act, if all the provisions thereof are complied with.
It is admissible in evidence against the maker or informant. It can be used only as a previous statement admissible to corroborate or contradict a statement made by the informant subsequently in the court. It can, therefore, be used only for the purpose of corroborating or contradicting the maker thereof. That is all the use it can be put to.
As already stated, the first information report is not a substantive piece of evidence. Where the maker himself becomes the accused it cannot be used as evidence against the maker nor is to corroborate or contradict other witnesses and it therefore not evidence.
[Public Prosecutor v. Thula Singh, (1963) 2 Mad. L.J. 473],
The substance of Section 154, Cr.P.C. is, therefore, this that every information lodged in the police station relating to the commission or suspected commission of a cognizable offence must be reduced to writing if not already in writing form and a substance of it must be entered in a book kept in the police station. Only that information, be it recorded as in the manner prescribed by Section 154 of the Code, or not but on which investigation in the case is commenced by the police is the first information of the occurrence. The law does not contemplate that when in the course of the investigation something is elicited first information can thereupon be recorded.
It is a matter of law whether an information is the first information or not, and it is not open to the officer-in-charge of the police station to treat an information as such or not according to his discretion.
There is no provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure for any preliminary enquiry prior to investigation or prior to the lodging of the information within the meaning of Section 154 of the Code. If circumstances indicate that after receiving some information, however incomplete, the police officer had commenced investigation, any subsequent information given to him about the commission of the offence by any other person cannot be regarded as first information report in the case and would not be admissible under Section 154 of the Code read with Section 157 of the Evidence Act, being hit by Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. If there is suppression of first information report and the responsibility for such suppression lies at the door of the prosecution apart from the inference to be drawn against the-prosecution under Section 114 illustration (g) of the Evidence Act, a case of prejudice to the accused is definitely made out. (A.I.R. 1967 Cal. 478).
Object of first information report:
The legal position as to the object, value and use of first information report is well settled. The principal object of the first information report from the point of view of the investigating authorities is to obtain information about the alleged criminal activity so as to be able to take suitable steps for tracing and bring to book the guilty party.
The first information report does not constitute substantive evidence though its importance as conveying the earliest information regarding the occurrence cannot be doubted. It can, however, only be used as a previous statement for the purpose of either corroborating its maker under Section 157 of the Indian Evidence Act, or for contradicting him under Section 145 of that Act. It cannot be used for the purpose of corroborating or contradicting other witnesses. [Ilasib v. The State of Bihar, A.I.R. 1972 S.C. 283).