Reports of genetic association of polymorphisms with lung cancer in the Indian subcontinent are often conflicting. To summarise and replicate published evidence for association with lung cancer and its subgroups. We performed a meta-analysis of candidate associations on lung cancer, its histological subtypes and smoking status in the Indian subcontinent following PRISMA guidelines. Multiple testing corrections were done by the Benjamini–Hochberg method through assessment of significance at a false discovery rate of 10%. We genotyped and investigated rs1048943/CYP1A1 in a case–control sample from eastern India, followed by its global meta-analysis using a similar protocol. Meta-analysis of 18 variants of 11 genes reported in 39 studies (7630 cases and 8169 controls) showed significant association of rs1048943/CYP1A1 [2.07(1.49–2.87)] and rs4646903/CYP1A1 [1.48(1.93–1.95)] with overall lung cancer risk at 10% FDR, while nominal association (p < 0.05) was observed for del1/GSTT1, del2/GSTM1, rs1695/GSTP1 and rs17037102/ DKK2. Subtype analysis showed a significant association of del1/GSTT1 with adenocarcinoma, rs4646903/CYP1A1 with squamous carcinoma, and rs1048943/CYP1A1 with both. Association of rs4646903/CYP1A1 in smokers and effect modification by meta-regression analysis was observed. Genotyping of rs1048943/CYP1A1 that presented significant heterogeneity (p < 0.1) revealed an association with adenocarcinoma among eastern Indian smokers, while a global meta-analysis in 10458 cases and 10871 controls showed association with lung cancer and its subgroups. This study identified the susceptibility loci for lung cancer and its covariate-subgroups. © 2021, The Author(s).